Skip to main content

Full text of "The Autobiography Of Calvin Coolidge"

See other formats

92. C7T4 

Keep Your Card in This Pocket 

Books will be issued, only on presentation of proper 
library cards. 

Unless labeled otherwise,, books may be retained 
for four weeks. Borrowers finding books marked* de- 
faced or mutilated are expected to report san at 
library desk; otherwise, the* last borrower will b* held 
responsible for all imperfectfms diAsovered. 

The card holder is responsible for all book drawn 
on this card. 

Penalty for over-due books 2c a day plus ootA d 

Lost cards and change of residence must be re- 
ported promptly. 

Public Library 

Kansas City, Mo. 

Keep Your Card in This Pocket 


The Autobiography 
















CALVIN COOLIDGE . . . Frontispiece 


Mofhfff tf Calvin 


Vermont Senate 

CALVIN COOLIDGE . . . . * ..... 66 

At tht A$t of Tbrtt 

CALVIN COOLIBGE . . . * . ..... 90 

Agtd S^en 

CALVIN COOLIDGE ...,,.... 136 
At Amberst College 

GRACE GOODHUE .......... 190 

B$fm H*r Marwagt to Calvin 

Tbt Day Ht Bfeawt Gwtrnor of Mamcku$tt$ 



THE town of Plymouth lies on the easterly 
slope of the Green Mountains, about twenty 
miles west of the Connecticut River and 
somewhat south of the central part of Vermont. This 
part of the state is made up of a series of narrow val- 
leys and high hills, some of which rank as mountains 
that must reach an elevation of at least twenty-five 
hundred feet. 

Its westerly boundary is along the summit of the 
main range to where it falls off into the watershed 
of Lake Champlain and the St. Lawrence River. At 
one point a little rill comes down a mountain until 
it strikes a rock, where it divides, part running north 
into the Ottauquechee and part south into the Black 
River, both of which later turn easterly to reach the 

In its natural state this territory was all covered 



with evergreen and hardwood trees. It had large 
deposits of limestone, occasionally mixed with mar- 
ble, and some granite. There were sporadic out- 
croppings of iron ore, and the sands of some of the 
streams showed considerable traces of gold. The soil 
was hard and rocky, but when cultivated supported 
a good growth of vegetation. 

During colonial times this region lay in an un- 
broken wilderness, until the coming of the French 
and Indian War, when a military road was cut 
through under the direction of General Amhcrst, 
running from Charlestown, New Hampshire, to 
Fort Ticonderoga, New York, This line of march 
lay through the south part of the town, crossing the 
Black River at the head of the two beautiful lakes 
and running over the hill towards the valley of the 
Otter Creek. 

When settlers began to come in around the time 
of the Revolution, the grandfather of my grand- 
father, Captain John Coolidge, located a farm near 
the height of land westward from the river along 
this military road, where he settled in about 1780. 

He had served in the Revolutionary army and 



may have learned of this region from some of his 
comrades who had known It in the old French wars, 
or who had passed over it in the campaign against 
Burgoyne, which culminated at Saratoga. 

He had five children and acquired five farms, so 
that each of his descendants was provided with a 
homestead. His oldest son Calvin came into pos- 
session of the one which I now own, where it is said 
that Captain John spent his declining years. He lies 
buried beside his wife in the little neighborhood 
cemetery not far distant. 

The early settlers of Plymouth appear to have 
come mostly from Massachusetts, though some of 
them had stopped on the way in New Hampshire. 
They were English Puritan stock, and their choice 
of a habitation stamps them with a courageous pio- 
neering spirit* 

Their first buildings were log houses, the remains 
of which were visible in some places in my early 
boyhood, though they had long since been given 
over to the sheltering of domestic animals. The town 
must have settled up with considerable rapidity, for 
as early as 1 840 it had about fourteen hundred in- 



habitants scattered about the valleys and on the sides 
of the hills, which the mountains divided into a con- 
siderable number of different neighborhoods, each 
with a well-developed local community spirit. 

As time went on, much land was cleared of for- 
est, very substantial buildings of wood construction 
were erected, saw mills and grist mills were located 
along the streams, and the sale of lumber and lime, 
farm products and domestic animals, brought con- 
siderable money into the town, which was laid out 
for improvements or found its way into the country 
store. It was a hard but wholesome life, under which 
the people suffered many privations and enjoyed 
many advantages, without any clear realization of 
the existence of either one of them. 

They were a hardy self-contained people. Most 
of them are gone now and their old homesteads are 
reverting to the wilderness. They went forth to con- 
quer where the trees were thicker, the fields larger, 
and the problems more difficult. I have seen their 
descendants scattered all over the country, especially 
in the middle west, and as far south as the Gulf of 
Mexico and westward to the Pacific slope. 



It was into this community that I was born on 
the 4th day of July, 1 872. My parents then lived in 
a five room, story and a half cottage attached to the 
post office and general store, of which my father 
was the proprietor. While they intended to name 
me for my father, they always called me Calvin, so 
the John became discarded. 

Our house was well shaded with maple trees and 
had a yard in front enclosed with a picket fence, in 
which grew a mountain ash, a plum tree, and the 
customary purple lilac bushes. In the summertime 
my mother planted her flower bed there. 

Her parents, who were prosperous farmers, lived 
in the large house across the road, which had been 
built for a hotel and still has the old hall in it where 
public dances were held in former days and a spa- 
cious corner on the front side known as the bar 
room, indicating what had been sold there before 
my grandfather Moor bought the premises* On an 
adjoining farm, about sixty-five rods distant, lived 
my grandfather and grandmother Coolidge. Within 
view were two more collections of farm buildings, 
three dwelling houses with their barns, a church, a 



school house and a blacksmith shop. A little out of 
sight dwelt the local butter tub maker and beyond 
him the shoemaker. 

This locality was known as The Notch, being sit- 
uated at the head o a valley in an irregular bowl of 
hills. The scene was one of much natural beauty , of 
which I think the inhabitants had little realization, 
though they all loved it because it was their home 
and were always ready to contend that it surpassed 
all the surrounding communities and compared 
favorably with any other place on earth. 

My sister Abbie was born in the same house in 
April, 1875. We ^ ve d there until 1876, when the 
place was bought across the road, which had about 
two acres of land with a house and a number of 
barns and a blacksmith shop. About it were a con- 
siderable number of good apple trees. I think the 
price paid was $375. Almost at once the principal 
barn was sold for $100, to be moved away. My 
father was a good trader. 

Some repairs were made on the inside,, and black 
walnut furniture was brought from Boston to fur- 
nish the parlor and sitting room* It was a plain 



square-sided house with a long ell, to which the 
horse barn was soon added. The outside has since 
been remodeled and the piazza built. A young 
woman was always employed to do the house work. 
Whatever was needed never failed to be provided. 

While in theory I was always urged to work and 
to save, in practice I was permitted to do my share 
of playing and wasting. My playthings often lay in 
the road to be run over, and my ball game often in- 
terfered with my filling the wood box* I have been 
taken out of bed to do penance for such derelictions. 

My father, John Calvin Coolidge, ran the country 
store. He was successful The annual rent of the 
whole place was $40, I have heard him say that his 
merchandise bills were about $10,000 yearly. He 
had no other expenses. His profits were about $100 
per month on the average, so he must have sold on a 
very close margin. 

He trusted nearly everybody, but lost a surpris- 
ingly small amount. Sometimes people he had not 
seen for years would return and pay him the whole 

He went to Boston in the spring and fall to buy 



goods. He took the midnight train from Lodlow 
when they did not have sleeping cars, arriving in 
the city early in the morning, which saved him his 
hotel bill 

He was a good business man, a very hard worker, 
and did not like to see things wasted. He kept the 
store about thirteen years and sold it to my mother's 
brother, who became a prosperous merchant. 

In addition to his business ability niy father was 
very skillful with his hands. He worked with a car- 
riage maker for a short time when he was young, 
and the best buggy he had for twenty years was 
one he made himself. He had a complete set of tools, 
ample to do all kinds of building and carpenter 
work. He knew how to lay bricks and was an excel- 
lent stone mason. 

Following his sale of the store about the time 
my grandfather died, besides running the farm, he 
opened the old blacksmith shop which stood upon 
the place across the road to which we had moved. 
He hired a blacksmith at $i per day, who was a 
large-framed powerful man with a black beard, said 
to be sometimes quarrelsome, 



I have seen him unaided throw a refractory horse 
to the ground when it objected to being shod. But 
he was always kind to me, letting me fuss around 
the shop, leaving his own row to do three or four 
hills for me so that I could more easily keep up with 
the rest of the men in hoeing time, or favoring me 
in some way in the hay field as he helped on the 
farm in busy times* 

He always pitched the hay on to the ox cart and 
I raked after* If I was getting behind he slowed up 
a little. He was a big-hearted man* I wish I could 
see that blacksmith again. The iron work for farm 
wagons and sleds was fashioned and put on in the 
shop, oxen and horses brought there for shoeing, and 
metal parts of farm implements often repaired. My 
father seemed to like to work in the shop, but did 
not go there much except when a difficult piece of 
work was required, like welding a broken steel sec- 
tion rod of a mowing machine, which had to be 
done with great precision or it would break again. 

He kept tools for mending shoes and harnesses 
and repairing water pipes and tinware. He knew 
how to perform all kinds of delicate operations on 


domestic animals. The lines he laid out were tree 
and straight, and the curves regular. The work he 
did endured. 

If there was any physical requirement of country 
life which he could not perform, I do not know 
what it was. From watching him and assisting him, 
I gained an intimate knowledge of all this kind of 

It seems impossible that any man could adequately 
describe his mother. I can not describe mine, 

On the side of her father, Hiram Dunlap Moor, 
she was Scotch with a mixture of Welsh and Eng- 
lish. Her mother, Abigail (Franklin) Moor, was 
chiefly of the old New England stock* She bore the 
name of two Empresses, Victoria Josephine. She 
was of a very light and fair complexion with a rich 
growth of brown hair that had a glint of gold in it* 
Her hands and features were regular and finely 
modeled. The older people always told me how 
beautiful she was in her youth. 

She was practically an invalid ever after I could 
remember her, but used what strength she had IE 
lavish care upon me and my sister, who was three 


years younger. There was a touch of mysticism and 
poetry in her nature which made her love to gaze at 
^ the purple sunsets and watch the evening stars. 
p Whatever was grand and beautiful in form and 
(f) color attracted her. It seemed as though the rich 
T^green tints of the foliage and the blossoms of the 
^ flowers came for her in the springtime, and in the 
autumn it was for her that the mountain sides were 
struck with crimson and with gold. 

When she knew that her end was near she called 
us children to her bedside, where we knelt down to 
receive her final parting blessing. 
L In an hour she was gone. It was her thirty-ninth 
^birthday. I was twelve years old. We laid her away 
f-in the blustering snows of March. The greatest grief 
wthat can come to a boy came to me. Life was never 
to seem the same again. 

Five years and forty-one years later almost to a 
day my sister and my father followed her. It always 
^seemed to me that the boy I lost was her image, 
hey all rest together on the sheltered hillside among 
five generations of the Coolidge family. 

My grandfather, Calvin Galusha Coolidge, died 


when I was six years old. He was a spare man over 
six feet tall, of a nature which caused people to con- 
fide in him, and of a character which made him a 
constant choice for public office. His mother and her 
family showed a marked trace of Indian blood, I 
never saw her, but he took me one time to see her 
sister, his very aged aunt, whom we found sitting in 
the chimney corner smoking a clay pipe. 

This was so uncommon that I always remem- 
bered it. I thought tobacco was only for men, though 
I had seen old ladies outside our neighborhood buy 
snuff at the store. 

He was an expert horseman and loved to raise colts 
and puppies. He kept peacocks and other gay-col- 
ored fowl and had a yard and garden filled with 
scarlet flowers. But he never cared to hunt or fish. 
He found great amusement in practical jokes and 
could entice a man into a nest of bees and make him 
think he went there of his own accord. 

He and my grandmother brought up as their own 
children the boy and girl of his only sister, whose 
parents died when they were less than two years old. 
He made them no charge, but managed their in- 


heritance and turned it all over to them with the in- 
come, besides giving the boy $800 of his own money 
when he was eighteen years old, the same as he did 
my father. He was fond of riding horseback and 
taught me to ride standing up behind him. Some of 
the horses he bred and sold became famous. In his 
mind, the only real, respectable way to get a living 
was from tilling the soil He therefore did not ex- 
actly approve having his son go into trade* 

In order to tie me to the land, in his last sickness 
he executed a deed to me for life of forty acres, called 
the Lime Kiln lot, on the west part of his farm, with 
the remainder to my lineal descendants, thinking 
that as I could not sell it, and my creditors could 
not get it s it would be necessary for me to cultivate 
it* He also gave me a mare colt and a heifer calf, 
which came of stock that had belonged to his grand- 

Two days after I was two months old, my father 
was elected to the state legislature. By a curious 
coincidence, when my son was the same age I was 
elected to the same office in Massachusetts. He was 
reelected twice, the term being two years, and, while 


he was serving, my grandfather took my mother 
and me to visit him at Montpelier. 

I think I was three years and four months old, 
but I always remembered the experience. Grand- 
father carried me to the State House and sat me in 
the Governor's chair, which did not impress me so 
much as a stuffed catamount that was in the capital 
museum- That was the first of the great many jour- 
neys which I have since made to legislative halls* 

During his last illness he would have me read to 
him the first chapter of the Gospel of John, which 
he had read to his grandfather. I could do very welt 
until I came to the word "comprehended," with 
which I always had difficulty. On taking the oath 
as President in 1925, I placed my hand on that 
Book of the Bible in memory of my first reading it. 

So far as I know, neither he nor any other mem- 
bers of my family ever entertained any ambitions in 
my behalf. He evidently wished me to stay on the 
land. My own wish was to keep store, as my father 
had done. 

They all taught me to be faithful over a few 
things. If they had any idea that such a training 



might some day make me a ruler over many things, 
it was not disclosed to me. It was my father in later 
years who wished me to enter the law, but when I 
finally left home for that purpose the parting was 
very hard for him to bear. 

The neighborhood around The Notch was made 
up of people of exemplary habits. Their speech was 
clean and their lives were above reproach. They had 
no mortgages on their farms. If any debts were con- 
tracted they were promptly paid. Credit was good 
and there was money in the savings bank. 

The break of day saw them stirring. Their in- 
dustry continued until twilight. They kept up no 
church organization, and as there was little regular 
preaching the outward manifestation of religion 
through public profession had little opportunity, but 
they were without exception a people of faith and 
charity and of good works. They cherished the teach- 
ings of the Bible and sought to live in accordance 
with its precepts. 

The conduct of the young people was modest and 
respectful. For most of the time during my boy- 
hood regular Sunday school classes were held in the 


church which my grandmother Coolidge superin- 
tended until in her advanced years she was super- 
seded by my father. She was a constant reader of the 
Bible and a devoted member of the church, who 
daily sought for divine guidance in prayer. 

I stayed with her at the farm much of the time 
and she had much to do with shaping the thought 
of my early years. She had a benign influence over 
all who came in contact with her. The Puritan se- 
verity of her convictions was tempered by the sweet- 
ness of a womanly charity. There were none whom 
she ever knew that had not In some way benefited 
by her kindness. 

Her maiden name was Sarah Almeda Brewer. 
When she married my grandfather she was twenty 
and he was twenty-eight years old. She was accus- 
tomed to tell me that from his experience and obser- 
vations he had come to have great faith in good 
blood, and that he chose her for his wife not only 
because he loved her, but because her family, which 
he had seen for three generations, were people of 
ability and character. 

While he would have looked upon rank as only 


pretense, he looked upon merit with great respect. 
His judgment was vindicated by the fact that more 
of her kin folks than he could have realized had 
been and were to become people of merited dis- 

The prevailing dress in our neighborhood was 
that of the countryside. While my father wore a busi- 
ness suit with a white shirt, collar and cuffs, which 
he always kept clean, the men generally had colored 
shirts and outer garments of brown or blue drilling. 
But they all had good clothes for any important oc- 

I was clad in a gingham, shirt with overalls in the 
summer, when I liked to go barefooted. In the win- 
ter these were changed for heavy wool garments and 
thick cowhide boots, which lasted a year. 

My grandmother Coolidge spun woolen yarn, 
from which she knitted us stockings and mittens* 
I have seen her weave cloth, and when I was ten 
years old I had a frock which came from her loom. 
We had linen sheets and table cloths and woolen bed 
blankets, which she had spun and woven in earlier 
days, I have some of them now. My grandfather 


Coolidge wore a blue woolen frock much of the 
time, which is a most convenient garment for that 
region. It is cut like a shirt, going on over the head, 
with flaps that reach to the knees. 

When I went to visit the old home in later years 
I liked to wear the one he left, with some fine calf- 
skin boots about two sizes too large for me, which 
were made for him when he went to the Vermont 
legislature about 1858. When news pictures began 
to be taken of me there, I found that among the 
public this was generally supposed to be a makeup 
costume, which it was not, so I have since been 
obliged to forego the comfort of wearing it, In pub- 
lic life it is sometimes necessary in order to appear 
really natural to be actually artificial. 

Perhaps some glimpse of these pictures may have 
caused an English writer to refer to me as a Vermont 
backwoodsman. I wonder if he describes Ms King 
as a Scotchman when he sees him in kilts* 

To those of his country who remember that Bur- 
goyne sent home a dispatch saying that the Green 
Mountains were the abode of the most warlike race 
on the continent, who hung like a thunder cloud on 



Ms left which was fully borne out by what they 
helped to do to him at Bennington and Saratoga 
I presume the term of Vermont backwoodsman still 
carries the implication of reproach. But in this 
country it is an appellation which from General 
Ethan Allen to Admiral George Dewey has not 
been without some distinction. 

While the form of government under which the 
Plymouth people lived was that of a republic, it had 
a strong democratic trend. The smallest unit was 
then the school district. Early in my boyhood the 
women were given a vote on school questions in both 
the district and town meetings. 

The district meeting was held in the evening at 
the school house each year. The officers were chosen 
and the rate of the school tax was fixed by popular 
vote. The board and room of the teacher for two- 
week periods was then assigned to the lowest bid- 
ders. The rates ran from about fifty cents each week 
in the summer to as high as $1.25 in the winter. 

The town officers were chosen annually at the 
March meeting. Here again the rate of taxes was 
fixed by popular vote* The bonded debt was rather 



large, coming down, as I was told, from expenses 
during the war and the costs of reconstructing roads 
and bridges after the disastrous freshet of 1869. 

The more substantial farmers wanted to raise a 
large tax to reduce the debt. I noticed my father did 
not vote on this subject and I inquired his reason, 
He said that while he could afford to pay a high rate, 
he did not wish to place so large a burden on those 
who were less able, and so was leaving them to make 
their own decision. 

In those days there were about two hundred and 
fifty qualified voters, not over twenty-five of which 
were Democrats, and the rest Republicans. They 
had their spirited contests in their elections, but not 
along party lines. 

One of the patriarchs of the town, who was a 
Democrat, served many years as Moderator by unan- 
imous choice. He was a man of sound common 
sense and an excellent presiding officer, but without 
much book learning. 

When he read that part of the call for the meet- 
ing which recited that it was to act "on the follow- 
ing questions, viz." he always read it "to act upon 



the following questions, vizley." This caused him 
to be referred to at times by the irreverent as Old 

I was accustomed to carry apples and popcorn 
balls to the town meetings to sell, mainly because 
my grandmother said my father had done so when 
he was a boy, and I was exceedingly anxious to grow 
up to be like him. 

On the even years in September came the Free- 
men's meeting- This was a state election, at which 
the town representative to the legislature was chosen. 
They also voted for county and state officers and for 
a Representative to the Congress, and on each fourth 
year for Presidential electors. I attended all of these 
meetings until I left home and followed them with 
interest for many of the succeeding years. 

Careful provision was made for the adminis- 
tration of justice through local authorities. Those 
charged with petty crimes and misdemeanors were 
brought before one of the five Justices of the Peace, 
who had power to try and sentence with or without 
calling a jury. He also had a like jurisdiction in 
civil matters of a small amount. 


The more important cases, criminal and civil* 
went to the County Court which sat in the neigh- 
boring town of Woodstock in May and December, 
My father was nearly all his life a Constable or a 
Deputy Sheriff, and sometimes both, with power to 
serve civil and criminal process, so that he arrested 
those charged with crime and brought them before 
the Justice for trial. 

Unless it would keep me out of school, he would 
take me with him when attending before the local 
justices or when he went to the opening session of 
the County Court. Before him my grandfather had 
held the same positions, so that together they were 
the peace officers most of the time in our town for 
nearly seventy-five years. 

Mn addition to this they often settled the estates 
of deceased persons and acted as guardian of minors* 
This business was transacted in the Probate Court, 
where I often went. 

My father was at times a Justice of the Peace and 
always had a commission as notary public. This en- 
abled him to take the acknowledgment of deeds* 
which he knew how to draw, and administer oaths 


necessary to pension papers which he filled out for 
old soldiers usually without charge, or to take affi- 
davits required on any other instruments. 

In my youth he was also always engaged in the 
transaction of all kinds of town business,, being con- 
stantly elected for that purpose. He was painstak- 
ing, precise and very accurate, and had such wide 
experience that the lawyers of the region knew they 
could rely on him to serve papers in difficult cases and 
make returns that would be upheld by the courts* 

This work gave him such a broad knowledge of 
the practical side of the law that people of the neigh- 
borhood were constantly seeking his advice, to which 
I always listened with great interest. He always 
counseled them to resist injustice and avoid unfair 
dealing, but to keep their agreements, meet their 
obligations and observe strict obedience to the law* 

By reason of what I saw and heard in my early 
life, I came to have a good working knowledge of 
the practical side of government* I understood that 
it consisted of restraints which the people had im- 
posed upon themselves in order to promote the com- 
mon welfare. 



As I went about with my father when he col- 
lected taxes, I knew that when taxes were laid some 
one had to work to earn the money to pay them, I 
saw that a public debt was a burden on all the people 
in a community, and while it was necessary to meet 
the needs of a disaster it cost much in interest and 
ought to be retired as soon as possible. 

After the winter work of laying in a supply of 
wood had been done, the farm year began about the 
first of April with the opening of the maple-sugar 
season. This was the most interesting of all the farm 
operations to me. 

With the coming of the first warm days we broke 
a road through the deep snow into the sugar lot* 
tapped the trees, set the buckets, and brought the 
sap to the sugar house, where in a heater and pans it 
was boiled down into syrup to be taken to the house 
for sugaring off. We made eight hundred to two 
thousand pounds, according to the season, 

After that the fences had to be repaired where 
they had been broken down by the snow, the cattle 
turned out to pasture, and the spring planting done. 
Then came sheep-shearing time, which was followed 



by getting in the hay, harvesting and threshing of 
the grain, cutting and husking the corn, digging the 
potatoes and picking the apples. Just before Thanks- 
giving the poultry had to be dressed for market, and 
a little later the fattened hogs were butchered and 
the meat salted down. Early in the winter a beef 
creature was slaughtered. 

The work of the farm was done by the oxen, ex- 
cept running the mowing machine and horse rake. 
I early learned to drive oxen and used to plow with 
them alone when I was twelve years old. Of course, 
there was the constant care of the domestic animals, 
the milking of the cows, and taking them to and 
from pasture, which was especially my responsibility. 

We had husking bees, apple-paring bees and sing- 
ing schools in the winter. There were parties for the 
young folks and an occasional dramatic exhibition 
by local talent. Not far away there were some public 
dances, which I was never permitted to attend. 

Some time during the summer we usually went to 
the circus, often rising by three o'clock so as to get 
there early. In the autumn we visited the county fair. 
The holidays were all celebrated in some fashion. 


O course, the Fourth of July meant a great deal 
to me, because it was my birthday. The first one I can 
remember was when I was four years old. My father 
took me fishing in the meadow brook in the morn- 
ing. I recall that I fell in the water, after which we 
had a heavy thundershower, so that we both came 
home very wet. Usually there was a picnic celebra- 
tion on that day* 

Thanksgiving was a feast day for family reunions 
at the home of the grandparents, Christmas was a 
sacrament observed with the exchange of gifts, when 
the stockings were hung, and the spruce tree was 
lighted in the symbol of Christian faith and love, 
While there was plenty of hard work, there was no 
lack of pleasurable diversion. 

When the work was done for the day y it was 
customary to drop into the store to get the evening 
mail and exchange views on topics of interest* A 
few times I saw there Attorney General John G. 
Sargent with his father, who was a much respected 

A number of those who came had followed Sher- 
idan, been with Meade at Gettysburg, and served 


under Grant, but they seldom volunteered any in- 
formation about it. They were not talkative and took 
their military service in a matter of fact way, not as 
anything to brag about but merely as something they 
did because it ought to be done. 

They drew no class distinctions except towards 
those who assumed superior airs. Those they held in 
contempt, They held strongly to the doctrine of 
equality. Whenever the hired man or the hired girl 
wanted to go anywhere they were always understood 
to be entitled to my place in the wagon, in which 
case I remained at home. This gave me a very early 
training in democratic ideas and impressed upon me 
very forcibly the dignity and power, if not the supe- 
riority of labor. 

It was all a fine atmosphere in which to raise a 
boy. As I look back on it I constantly think how 
clean it was. There was little about it that was arti- 
ficial. It was all close to nature and in accordance 
with the ways of nature. The streams ran clear. The 
roads,/the woods, the fields, the people all were 
clean. Even when I try to divest it of the halo which 
I know always surrounds the past, I am unable to 


create any other impression than that it was fresh 
and clean. 

We had some books, but not many* Mother liked 
poetry and read some novels. Father had no taste 
for books, but always took and read a daily paper. 
My grandfather Moor read books and papers, so that 
he was a well-informed man. 

My grandmother Coolidge liked books and be- 
sides a daily Chapter in the Bible read aloud to me 
"The Rangers or the Tory's Daughter" and <4 The 
Green Mountain Boys/* which were both stories of 
the early settlers of Vermont during the Revolu- 
tionary period* She also had two volumes entitled 
" Washington and His Generals/' and other biog- 
raphies which I read myself at an early age with a 
great deal of interest. 

At home there were numerous law books* In this 
way I grew up with a working knowledge of the 
foundations of my state and nation and a taste for 

My education began with a set of blocks which 
had on them the Roman numerals and the letters of 
the alphabet. It is not yet finished. As I played with 


Allison Spence 

Mother of Cahin Coolidge, about the time her marriage 


them and asked my mother what they were, I came 
to know them all when I was three years old. I 
started to school when I was five. 

The little stone school house which had unpainted 
benches and desks wide enough to seat two was at- 
tended by about twenty-five scholars. Few, if any, of 
my teachers reached the standard now required by 
all public schools. They qualified by examination be- 
fore the town superintendent. I first took this exam- 
ination and passed it at the age of thirteen and my 
sister Abbie passed it and taught a term of school in 
a neighboring town when she was twelve years old. 

My teachers were young women from neighbor- 
ing communities, except sometimes when a man was 
employed for the winter term. They were all in- 
telligent, of good character, and interested in their 
work. I do not feel that the quality of their instruc- 
tion was in any way inferior. The common school 
subjects were taught, with grammar and United 
States history, so that when I was thirteen I had 
mastered them all and went to Black River Acad- 
emy, at Ludlow. 

That was one of the greatest events of my life. 



The packing and preparation for it required more 
time and attention than collecting my belongings in 
preparation for leaving the White House. 1 counted 
the hours until it was time to go. 

My whole outfit went easily into two small hand- 
bags, which lay on the straw in the back of the trav- 
erse sleigh beside the fatted calf that was starting to 
market. The winter snow lay on the ground. The 
weather was well below freezing. But in my eager- 
ness these counted for nothing. 

I was going where 1 would be mostly my own 
master. I was casting off what I thought was the 
drudgery of farm life, symbolized by the cowhide 
boots and every-day clothing which I was leaving be- 
hind, not realizing what a relief it would be to re- 
turn to them in future years. I had on my best clothes 
and wore shoes with rubbers, because the village had 

I did not know that there were mental and moral 
atmospheres more monotonous and more contami- 
nating than anything in the physical atmosphere of 
country life. No one could have made me believe 
that I should never be so innocent or so happy again. 


As we rounded the brow of the hill the first rays 
of the morning sun streamed over our backs and 
lighted up the glistening snow ahead. I was per- 
fectly certain that I was traveling out of the darkness 
into the light. 

We have much speculation over whether the city 
or the country is the better place to bring up boys, I 
am prejudiced in behalf of the country, but I should 
have to admit that much depends on the parents and 
the surrounding neighborhood. We felt the cold in 
winter and had many inconveniences, but we did 
not mind them because we supposed they were the 
inevitable burdens of existence, 

It would be hard to imagine better surroundings 
for the development of a boy than those which I had. 
While a wider breadth of training and knowledge 
could have been presented to me, there was a daily 
contact with many new ideas, and the mind was 
given sufficient opportunity thoroughly to digest all 
that came to it. 

Country life does not always have breadth, but it 
has depth. It is neither artificial nor superficial, but 
is kept close to the realities. 



While I can think of many pleasures we did not 
have,, and many niceties of culture with which we 
were unfamiliar,, yet if I had the power to order my 
life anew I would not dare to change that period of 
it. If it did not afford me the best that there was, it 
abundantly provided the best that there was for me. 




ONE of the sages of New England is re- 
ported to have declared that the education 
of a child should begin several generations 
before it is born. No doubt it does begin at a much 
earlier period and we enter life with a heritage that 
reaches back through the ages. But we do not choose 
our ancestors* When we come into the world the 
gate of gifts is closed behind us. We can do nothing 
about it. So far as each individual is concerned all 
he can do is to take the abilities he has and make the 
most of them. His power over the past is gone. His 
power over the future depends on what he does with 
himself in the present. If he wishes to live and pro- 
gress he must work. 

During early childhood the inspiration for any- 
thing like mental discipline comes almost entirely 
from the outside. It is supplied by the parents and 



teachers. It was not until I left home In February 
of 1886 that I could say I had much thought of my 
own about getting an education. Thereafter I began 
to be more dependent on myself and assume more 
and more self-direction. What I studied was the re- 
sult of my own choice. Instead of seeking to direct 
me, niy father left me to decide. But when I had 
selected a course he was always solicitous to see that 
I diligently applied myself to it. 

Going away to school was my first great adven- 
ture in life. I shall never forget the impression it 
made on me. It was so deep and remains so vivid 
that whenever I have started out on a new enter- 
prise a like feeling always returns to me. It was the 
same when I went to college, when I left home to 
enter the law, when I began a public career in Bos- 
ton, when I started for Washington to become Vice- 
President and finally when I was called to the White 
House. Going to the Academy meant a complete 
break with the past and entering a new and untried 
field, larger and more alluring than the past, among 
unknown scenes and unknown people. 

In the spring of 1886 Black River Academy had 


just celebrated its fiftieth anniversary. While it had 
some distinguished alumni, the great body of its 
former students were the hard-working, every-day 
people, that made the strength of rural New Eng- 
land- My father and mother and grandmother Cool- 
idge had been there a few terms. While it had a 
charter of its own, and was independent of the pub- 
lic authorities, it was nevertheless part village high 
school. At its head was a principal, who had under 
him two women assistants. A red brick structure, 
built like a church, with an assembly room and a few 
recitation rooms made up its entire equipment, so 
that those who did not live at home boarded in pri- 
vate families about the town of Ludlow. The spring 
term began in midwinter in order that the girls 
could be out by the first Monday in May to teach a 
summer district school and the boys could get home 
for the season's work on the farm. 

For the very few who were preparing for college 
a classical course was off ered in Latin, Greek, history 
and mathematics, but most of the pupils kept to the 
Latin Scientific, and the English courses. The stu- 
dent body was about one hundred and twenty-five in 



number. During my first term I began algebra and 
finished grammar. For some reason I was attracted 
to civil government and took that. This was my first 
introduction to the Constitution of the United States. 
Although I was but thirteen years old the subject 
interested me exceedingly. The study of it which I 
then began has never ceased, and the more I study it 
the more I have come to admire it, realizing that no 
other document devised by the hand of man ever 
brought so much progress and happiness to human- 
ity* The good it has wrought can never be measured. 
It was not alone the school with its teachers, its- 
students and courses of study that interested me, but 
also the village and its people. It all lay in a beauti- 
ful valley along the Black River supported on either 
side by high hills. The tradespeople all knew my 
father well and he had an intimate acquaintance 
with the lawyers. Very soon I too knew them all, 
The chief industry of the town was a woolen mill 
that always remained a mystery to me. But the lesser 
activity of the village was a cab shop, I worked there 
some on Saturdays, so I came to know how toys and 
baby wagons were made. It was my first acquaint:- 



ance with the factory system, and my approach to it 
was that of a wage earner. As I was employed at 
piece work my wages depended on niy own ability, 
skill and industry. It was a good training. I was 
beginning to find out what existence meant. 

My real academy course began the next fall term 
when I started to study Latin. In a few weeks I 
broke my right arm but it did not keep me out of 
school more than two days. Latin was not difficult 
for me to translate, but I never became proficient in 
its composition. Although I continued it until my 
sophomore year at college the only part of all the 
course that I found of much interest was the orations 
of Cicero. These held my attention to such a degree 
that I translated some of them in later life. 

When Greek was begun the next year I found it 
difficult. It is a language that requires real attention 
and close application. Among its rewards are the 
moving poetry of Homer, the marvelous orations of 
Demosthenes, and in after life an increased power of 

Besides the classics we had a course in rhetoric, 
some ancient history, and a little American litera- 


turc. Plane geometry completed our mathematics. 
In the modern languages there was only French, 

In some subjects I began with the class when it 
started to review and so did the work of a term in 
two weeks, I joined the French class in mid year 
and made up the work by starting my study at about 
three o'clock in the morning. 

During the long vacations from May until Sep- 
tember I went home and worked on the farm* We 
had a number of horses so that I was able to indulge 
my pleasure in riding. As no one else in the neigh- 
borhood cared for this diversion I had to ride alone* 
But a horse is much company, and riding over the 
fields and along the country roads by himself , where 
nothing interrupts his seeing and thinking,, is a good 
occupation for a boy. The silences of Nature have a 
discipline all their own. 

Of course our school life was not free from pranks. 
The property of the townspeople was moved to 
strange places in the night. One morning as the jan- 
itor was starting the furnace he heard a loud bray 
from one of the class rooms. His investigation dis- 
closed the presence there of a domestic animal noted 


for his long ears and discordant voice. In some way 
during the night he had been stabled on the second 
floor. About as far as I deem it prudent to discuss 
my own connection with these escapades is to record 
that I was never convicted of any of them and so 
must be presumed innocent. 

The expenses at the Academy were very moder- 
ate. The tuition was about seven dollars for each 
term, and board and room for each week not over 
three dollars. Oftentimes students hired a room for 
about fifty cents per week and boarded themselves. 
In my own case the cost for a school year averaged 
about one hundred and fifty dollars, which was all 
paid by my father. Any money I earned he had me 
put in the savings bank, because he wished me to be 
informed of the value of money at interest. He 
thought money invested in that way led to a self- 
respecting independence that was one of the founda- 
tions of good character. 

It was about twelve miles from Ludlow to Plym- 
outh. Sometimes I walked home Friday afternoon, 
but usually my father came for me and brought me 
back Sunday evening or Monday morning. When 



this was not done I often staid with the elder sister 
of my mother, Mrs. Don C. Pollard, who lived about 
three miles down the river at Proctorsville, This was 
my Aunt Sarah who is still living. She was wonder- 
fully kind to me and did all she could to take the 
place of my own mother in affection for me and 
good influence over me while I was at the Academy 
and ever after. The sweetness of her nature was a 
benediction to all who came in contact with her. 
^Vhat men owe to the love and help of good women 
can never be told. ] 

The Academy had no athletics in those days, as 
the boys from the farms did not feel the need of such 
activity, A few games of baseball were played, but 
no football or track athletics were possible. Games 
did not interest me much though I had some skill 
with a bat. I was rather slender and not so tall as 
many boys of my age. 

Those who attended the school from out of town 
were all there with a real purpose of improving 
themselves, so that while there was no lack of fun 
and play they all worked as best they could, for their 
coming had meant too much sacrifice at home not to 



be taken seriously. They had come seeking to better 
their condition in life through what they might learn 
and the self-discipline they might secure. 

The school had much to be desired in organiza- 
tion and equipment, but it possessed a sturdy spirit 
and a wholesome regard for truth. Of course the 
student body came from the country and had coun- 
try ways, but the boys were inspired with a purpose, 
and the girls with a sweet sincerity which becomes 
superior to all the affectations of the drawing-room. 
In them the native capacity for making real men 
and women remained all unspoiled. 

The Presidential election of 1888 created con- 
siderable interest among the students. Most of them 
favored the Republican candidate Benjamin Harri- 
son against the then President Grover Cleveland. 
When Harrison was elected, two nights were spent 
parading the streets with drums and trumpets, cele- 
brating the victory. 

During most of my course George Sherman was 
the principal and Miss M. Belle Chellis was the first 
assistant. I owe much to the inspiration and schol- 
arly direction which they gave to my undergraduate 



days. They both lived to see me President and sent 
me letters at the time, though they left the school 
long ago. It was under their teaching that I first 
learned of the glory and grandeur of the ancient 
civilization that grew up around the Mediterranean 
and in Mesopotamia. Under their guidance I be- 
held the marvels of old Babylon, I marched with the 
Ten Thousand of Xenophon, I witnessed the con- 
flict around beleaguered Troy which doomed that 
proud city to pillage and to flames, I heard the tramp 
of the invincible legions of Rome, I saw the victo- 
rious galleys of the Eternal City carrying destruction 
to the Carthaginian shore, and I listened to the lofty 
eloquence of Cicero and the matchless imagery of 
Homer, They gave me a vision of the world when it 
was young and showed me how it grew* It seems to 
me that it is almost impossible for those who have 
not traveled that road to reach a very clear concep- 
tion of what the world now means* 

It was in this period that I learned something of 
the thread of events that ran from the Euphrates and 
the Nile through Athens to the Tiber and thence 
stretched on to the Seine and the Thames to be car** 


ried overseas to the James, the Charles and the Hud- 
son. I found that the English language was gener- 
ously compounded with Greek and Latin, which it 
was necessary to know if I was to understand my 
native tongue. I discovered that our ideas of democ- 
racy came from the agora of Greece, and our ideas of 
liberty came from the forum of Rome. Something 
of the sequence of history was revealed to me, so that 
I began to understand the significance of our own 
times and our own country. 

In March of my senior year my sister Abbie died. 
She was three years my junior but so proficient in 
her studies that she was but two classes below me in 
school. She was ill scarcely a week. Several doctors 
were in attendance but could not save her. Thirty 
years later one of them told me he was convinced 
she had appendicitis, which was a disease not well 
understood in 1 890. I went home when her condi- 
tion became critical and staid beside her until she 
passed to join our mother. The memory of the charm 
of her presence and her dignified devotion to the 
right will always abide with me. 

In the spring of 1890 came my graduation. The 



class had five boys and four girls. With so small a 
number it was possible for all of us to take part in 
the final exercises with orations and essays. The sub- 
ject that I undertook to discuss was "Oratory in 
History/' in which I dealt briefly with the effect of 
the spoken word in determining human action. 

It had been my thought, as I was but seventeen, 
to spend a year in some of the larger preparatory 
schools and then enter a university. But it was sud- 
denly decided that a smaller college would be pref- 
erable, so I went to Amherst On my way there I 
contracted a heavy cold, which grew worse, interfer- 
ing with my examinations, and finally sent me home 
where I was ill for a considerable time. 

But by early winter I was recovered, so that I did 
a good deal of work helping repair and paint the 
inside of the store building which my father still 
owned and rented. There was time for much read- 
ing and I gave great attention to the poems of Sir 
Walter Scott. After a few weeks in the late winter 
at my old school I went to St. Johnsbury Academy 
for the spring term. Its principal was Dr. Putney > 
who was a fine drill-master, a very exact scholar, and 


While in the Vermont Senate 



an excellent disciplinarian. He readily gave me a 
certificate entitling me to ' enter Amherst without 
further examination, which he would never have 
done if he had not been convinced I was a proficient 
student. His indorsement of the work I had already 
done, after having me in his own classes for a term, 
showed that Black River Academy was not without 
some merit. 

During the summer vacation my father and I 
went to the dedication of the Benniagton Battle 
Monument. It was a most elaborate ceremony with 
much oratory followed by a dinner and more speak- 
ing, with many bands of music and a long military 
parade. The public officials of Vermont and many 
from New York were there. I heard President Har- 
rison, who was the first President I had ever seen, 
make an address. As I looked on him and realized 
that he personally represented the glory and dignity 
of the United States I wondered how it felt to bear 
so much responsibility and little thought I should 
ever know. 

The fall of 1 89 1 found me back at Amherst tak- 
ing up my college course in earnest. Much of its 



social life centered around the fraternities, and al- 
though they did not leave me without an invitation 
to join them it was not until senior year that an op- 
portunity carne to belong to one that I wished to 
accept. It has been my observation in life that, if one 
will only exercise the patience to wait, his wants are 
likely to be filled. 

My class was rather small, not numbering more 
than eighty-five in a student body of about four 
hundred. President Julius H. Seelye, who had led 
the college for about twenty years with great suc- 
cess as an educator and inspirer of young men, had 
just retired. He had been succeeded by President 
Merrill E. Gates, a man of brilliant intellect and 
fascinating personality though not the equal of his 
predecessor in directing college policy. But the fac- 
ulty as a whole was excellent, having many strong 
men, and some who were preeminent in the educa- 
tional field. 

The college of that day had a very laudable desire 
to get students, and having admitted them, it was 
equally alert in striving to keep them and help them 
get an education, with the result that very few left 


of their own volition and almost none were dropped 
for failure in their work. There was no marked ex- 
odus at the first examination period, which was due 
not only to the attitude of the college but to the at- 
titude of the students, who did not go there because 
they wished to experiment for a few months with 
college life and be able to say thereafter they had 
been in college, but went because they felt they had 
need of an education, and expected to work hard for 
that purpose until the course was finished. There 
were few triflers. 

A small number became what we called sports, 
but they were not looked on with favor, and they 
have not survived. While the class has lost many ex- 
cellent men besides, yet it seems to be true that un- 
less men live right they die. Things are so ordered 
in this world that those who violate its law cannot 
escape the penalty. Nature is inexorable. If men do 
not follow the truth they cannot live. 

My absence from home during my freshman year 
was more easy for me to bear because I was no longer 
leaving my father alone. Just before the opening of 
college he had married Miss Carrie A. Brown, who 


was one of the finest women of our neighborhood* 
I had known her all my life. After being without a 
mother nearly seven years I was greatly pleased to 
find in her all the motherly devotion that she could 
have given me if I had been her own son. She was 
a graduate of Kimball Union Academy and had 
taught school for some years. Loving books and 
music she was not only a mother to me but a teacher. 
For thirty years she watched over me and loved me ? 
welcoming me when I went home, writing me often 
when I was away, and encouraging me in all my ef- 
forts. When at last she sank to rest she had seen me 
made Governor of Massachusetts and knew I was 
djfig considered for the Presidency. 

seems as though good influences had always 
been coming into my life. Perhaps I have been more 
fortunate in that respect than others. But while I am 
not disposed to minimize the amount of evil in the 
world I am convinced that the good predominates 
and that it is constantly all about us, ready for our 
service if only we will accept it?! 

In the Anxherst College ofmy day a freshman 
was not regarded as different from the other classes* 


He wore no distinctive garb, or emblem, and suf- 
fered no special indignities. It would not have been 
judicious for him to appear on the campus with a 
silk hat and cane, but as none of the other students 
resorted to that practice this single restriction was 
not a severe hardship, A cane rush always took place 
between the two lower classes very early in the fall 
term, but it was confined within the limits of good- 
natured sport, where little damage was done beyond 
a few torn clothes. If we had undertaken to have a 
class banquet where the sophomores could reach us, 
it undoubtedly would have brought on a collision, 
but when the time came for one we tactfully and 
silently departed for Westfield, under cover of a 
winter evening, where we were not found or mo- 

It had long been the practice at Amherst to give 
careful attention to physical culture. It had, I be- 
lieve, the first college gymnasium in this country. 
Each student on entering was given a thorough ex- 
amination, furnished with a chart showing any 
bodily deficiencies and given personal direction for 
their removal. The attendance of the whole class was 



required at the gymnasium drill for four periods 
each week, and voluntary work on the floor was 
always encouraged. We heard a great deal about a 
sound mind in a sound body. 

At the time of my entrance the two college dor- 
mitories were so badly out of repair that they were 
little used. Later they were completely remodeled 
and became fully occupied. About ten fraternity 
houses furnished lodgings for most of the upper class 
men, but the lower class men roomed at private 
houses. All the students took their meals in private 
houses, so that there was a general comingling of 
all classes and all fraternities around the table, which 
broke up exclusive circles and increased college de- 

The places of general assembly were for religious 
worship, which consisted of the chapel exercises at 
the first morning period each week day, and church 
service in the morning, with vespers in the late after- 
noon, on Sundays. Regular attendance at all of these 
was required. Of course we did not like to go and 
talked learnedly about the right of freedom of wor- 
ship, and the bad mental and moral reactions from 



which we were likely to suffer as a result of being 
forced to hear scriptural readings, psalm singings, 
prayers and sermons. We were told that our choice 
of a college was optional, but that Amherst had been 
founded by pious men with the chief object of train- 
ing students to overcome the unbelief which was 
then thought to be prevalent, that religious instruc- 
tion was a part of the prescribed course, and that 
those who chose to remain would have to take it. If 
attendance on these religious services ever harmed 
any of the men of my time I have never been in- 
formed of it. The good it did I believe was infinite. 
Not the least of it was the discipline that resulted 
from having constantly to give some thought to 
things that young men would often prefer not to 
consider. If we did not have the privilege of doing 
what we wanted to do 5 we had the much greater 
benefit of doing what we ought to do. It broke down 
our selfishness, it conquered our resistance, it sup- 
planted impulse, and finally it enthroned reason. 

In intercollegiate athletics Amherst stood well. It 
won its share of trophies on the diamond, the grid- 
iron and the track, but it did not engage in any o 



the water sports. The games with Williams and 
Dartmouth aroused the keenest interest, and honors 
were then about even* But these outside activities 
were kept well within bounds and were not permit- 
ted to interfere with the real work of the college. 
Pratt Field had just been completed and was well 
equipped for outdoor sports, while Pratt Gymna- 
sium had every facility for indoor training. These 
places were well named, for the Pratt boys were very 
active in athletics. One of them was usually captain 
of the football team. I remember that in 1892 
George D. Pratt, afterwards Conservation Commis- 
sioner of the State of New York, led his team to vic- 
tory against Dartmouth, thirty to two, and a week 
later kicked ten straight goals in a gale of wind at 
the championship game with Williams, leaving the 
score sixty to nothing in favor of Amherst But both 
these colleges have since retaliated with a great deal 
of success, 

In these field events I was only an observer, con- 
tenting myself with getting exercise by faithful at- 
tendance at the class drills in the gymnasium* In 
these the entire class worked together with dumb- 



bells for most of the time, but they involved suffi- 
cient marching about the floor to give a military 
flavor which I found very useful in later life when 
I came in contact with military affairs during my 
public career. 

The Presidential election of 1892 came in my 
sophomore year. I favored the renomination of Har- 
rison and joined the Republican Club of the college, 
which participated in a torch-light parade, but the 
unsatisfactory business condition of the country car- 
ried the victory to Cleveland. 

For nearly two years I continued my studies of 
Latin and Greek. Ours was the last class that read 
Demosthenes on the Crown with Professor William 
S. Tyler, the head of the Greek department, who 
had been with the college about sixty years. He was 
a patriarch in appearance with a long beard and 
flowing white hair. 

His reverence for the ancient Greeks approached 
a religion. It was illustrated by a story, perhaps 
apocryphal, that one of his sons was sent to a theo- 
logical school, and not wishing to engage in the min- 
istry, wrote his father that the faculty of the school 



held that Socrates was in hell* Such a reflection on 
the Greek philosopher so outraged the old man's 
loyalty that he wrote his son that the school was no 
place for him and directed him to come home at 

In spite of his eighty-odd years he put the fire of 
youth into the translation of those glowing periods 
of the master orator, which were such eloquent ap- 
peals to the patriotism of the Greeks and such tre- 
mendous efforts to rouse them to the defense of their 
country- Those passages of the marvelous oration he 
said he had loved to read during the Civil War. 

My studies of the ancient languages I supple- 
mented with short courses in French., German and 

But I never became very proficient in the lan- 
guages, I was more successful at mathematics, which 
I pursued far enough to take calculus. This course 
was mostly under George D. Olds, who came to 
teach when we entered to study , which later caused 
us to adopt him as an honorary member of our class, 
In time he became President of the College. He had 
a peculiar power to make figures interesting and 



knew how to hold the attention and affection of his 
students. It was under him that we learned of the 
universal application of the laws of mathematics. 
We saw the discoveries of Kepler, Descartes, New- 
ton and their associates bringing the entire universe 
under one law, so that the most distant point of light 
revealed by the largest reflector marches in harmony 
with our own planet. We discovered, too, that the 
same force that rounds a tear-drop holds all the 
myriad worlds of the universe in a balanced posi- 
tion. We found that we dwelt in the midst of a 
Unity which was all subject to the same rules of 
action. My education was making some headway. 
In the development of every boy who is going to 
amount to anything there comes a time when he 
emerges from his immature ways and by the greater 
precision of his thought and action realizes that he 
has begun to find himself. Such a transition finally 
came to me. It was not accidental but the result of 
hard work. If I had permitted my failures, or what 
seemed to me at the time a lack of success, to dis- 
courage me I cannot see any way in which I would 
ever have made progress. If we keep our faith in 



ourselves, and what is even more important, keep 
our faith in regular and persistent application to hard 
work, we need not worry about the outcome. 

During my first two years at Amherst I studied 
hard but my marks were only fair* It needed some 
encouragement from my father for me to continue. 
In junior year, however, my powers began to in- 
crease and my work began to improve. My studies 
became more interesting. I found the course in 
history under Professor Anson D. Morse was very 
absorbing. His lectures on medieval and modern 
Europe were inspiring, seeking to give his students 
not only the facts of past human experience but also 
their meaning. He was very strong on the political 
side of history, bringing before us the great figures 
from Charlemagne to Napoleon with remarkable 
distinctness, and showing us the influence of the 
Great Gregory and Innocent IIL The work o Abe- 
lard and Erasmus was considered, and the impor- 
tant era of Luther and Calvin thoroughly explored. 

In due time we crossed the Channel with William 
the Conqueror and learned how he subdued and 
solidified the Kingdom of England, The signifi- 



cance of the long struggle with the Crown before 
the Parliament finally reached a position of inde- 
pendence was disclosed, and the slow growth of a 
system of liberty/finder the law, until at last it was 
firmly es|M)lish|o,wa& carefully explained. We saw 
th$ British Empire r/ab until it ruled the seas. The 
k of the statesmanship of the different pe- 
d character of the patriotic leaders, 
Sin^n/ae Montfort, of Cromwell 
the/ Pur tans, whb| djlred to oppose the tyranny 
3|vth of learning, the develop- 
.ent of commerc :, tlie administration of justice 

more we|e 


m. WhateV' 
henlion of 

it waV4men he 
that Jtrofessor Morse 
placko^nrticular empha; 
treated with 
mate was pi 
financial ca 

rented for our consider- 
to a general compre- 
we had. 

ned to the United States 
ie most impressive. He 
on the era when our 
tg. Washington was 
'erence, and a high esti- 
statesmanlike qualities and 
>f Hamilton, but Jefferson was 

not neglected. In spite of his many vagaries it was 



shown that in saving the nation from the danger of 
falling under the domination of an oligarchy, aad 
in establishing a firm rule of the people which was 
forever to remain, he vindicated the soundness of 
our political institutions. The whole course was a 
thesis on good citizenship and good government. 
Those who took it came to a clearer comprehension 
not only of their rights and liberties but of their 
duties and responsibilities. 

The department of public speaking was under 
Professor Henry A. Frink. He had a strong hold on 
his students. His work went along with the other 
work, practically through the four years, beginning 
with composition and recitation and passing to the 
preparation and delivery of orations and participa- 
tion in public debates. The allied subject of rhetoric 
I took under Professor John F. Genung, a scholarly 
man who was held in high respect. The courses in 
biology, chemistry, economics and geology I was 
not able to pursue, though they all interested me and 
were taught by excellent men. 

Not the least in the educational values of Amherst 
was its beautiful physical surroundings. While the 



college buildings of the early nineties were not im- 
pressive, the town with its spacious common and 
fine elm trees was very attractive. It was located on 
the arch of a slight ridge flanked on the north by 
Mount Warner and on the south by the Holyoke 
Range. The east rose over wooded slopes to the hori- 
zon, and the west looked out across the meadows of 
the Connecticut to the spires of Northampton and 
the Hampshire Hills beyond. Henry Ward Beecher 
has dwelt with great admiration and affection on 
the beauties of this region, where he was a student. 
Each autumn, when the foliage had put on its rich- 
est tints, the College set aside Mountain Day to be 
devoted to the contemplation of the scenery so won- 
derfully displayed in forest, hill, and dale, before 
the frosts of winter laid them bare. 

It always seemed to me that all our other studies 
were in the nature of a preparation for the course 
in philosophy. The head of this department was 
Charles E. Garman, who was one of the most re- 
markable men with whom I ever came in contact. 
He used numerous text books, which he furnished, 
and many pamphlets that he not only had written, 



but had printed himself on a hand press in his home. 
These he pledged us to show to no one outside the 
class, because, being fragmentary, and disclosing but 
one line of argument which might be entirely de- 
molished in succeeding lessons, they might involve 
him in some needless controversy. It is difficult to 
imagine his superior as an educator. Truly he drew 
men out. 

Beginning in the spring of junior year his course 
extended through four terms. The first part was de- 
voted to psychology, in order to find out the capacity 
and the limits of the human mind. It was here that 
we learned the nature of habits and the great ad- 
vantage of making them our allies instead of our 

Much stress was placed on a thorough mastery 
and careful analysis of all the arguments presented 
by the writers on any subject under consideration. 
Then when it was certain that they were fully under- 
stood they were criticized, so that what was unsound 
was rejected and what was true accepted. We were 
thoroughly drilled in the necessity of distinguishing 
between the accidental and the essential. The proper 


method of presenting a subject and an argument was 
discussed. We were not only learning about the hu- 
man mind but learning how to use it, learning how 
to think. A problem would often be stated and the 
class left to attempt to find the solution unaided by 
the teacher. Above all we were taught to follow the 
truth whithersoever it might lead. We were warned 
that this would oftentimes be very difficult and re- 
sult in much opposition, for there would be many 
who were not going that way, but if we pressed on 
steadfastly it was sure to yield the peaceable fruits 
of the mind. It does. 

Our investigation revealed that man is endowed 
with reason, that the human mind has the power 
to weigh evidence, to distinguish between right and 
wrong and to know the truth. I should call this the 
central theme of his philosophy. While the quantity 
of the truth we know may be small it is the quality 
that is important. If we really know one truth the 
quality of our knowledge could not be surpassed by 
the Infinite. 

We looked upon Garman as a man who walked 
with God. His course was a demonstration of the 



existence of a personal God, of our power to know 
Him, of the Divine immanence, and of the complete 
dependence of all the universe on Him as the Cre- 
ator and Father "in whom we live and move and 
have our being." Every reaction in the universe is a 
manifestation of His presence. Man was revealed as 
His son, and nature as the hem of His garment, 
while through a common Fatherhood we are all em- 
braced in a common brotherhood. The spiritual ap- 
peal of music, sculpture, painting and all other art 
lies in the revelation it affords of the Divine beauty. 

The conclusions which followed from this posi- 
tion were logical and inescapable. It sets man off in 
a separate kingdom from all the other creatures in 
the universe, and makes him a true son of God and 
a partaker of the Divine nature. This is the warrant 
for his freedom and the demonstration of his equal- 
ity. It does not assume all are equal in degree but all 
are equal in kind. On that precept rests a founda- 
tion for democracy that cannot be shaken. It justi- 
fies faith in the people. 

No doubt there are those who think they can 
demonstrate that this teaching was not correct. With 



At the age of three 

XJnderwocrd & Underwood 


them I have no argument. I know that in experience 
it has worked. In time of crisis my belief that people 
can know the truth, that when it is presented to 
them they must accept it, has saved me from many 
of the counsels of expediency. The spiritual nature 
of men has a power of its own that is manifest in 
every great emergency from Runnymede to Marston 
Moor, from the Declaration of Independence to the 
abolition of slavery. 

In ethics he taught us that there is a standard of 
righteousness, that might does not make right, that 
the end does not justify the means and that expedi- 
ency as a working principle is bound to fail The 
only hope of perfecting human relationship is in ac- 
cordance with the law of service under which men 
are not so solicitous about what they shall get as they 
are about what they shall give. Yet people are en- 
titled to the rewards of their industry. What they 
earn is theirs, no matter how small or how great. But 
the possession of property carries the obligation to 
use it in a larger service. For a man not to recognize 
the truth, not to be obedient to law, not to render 
allegiance to the State, is for him to be at war with 



his own nature, to commit suicide. That is why "the 
wages of sin is death/' Unless we live rationally we 
perish, physically, mentally, spiritually. 

A great deal o emphasis was placed on the neces- 
sity and dignity of work. Our talents are given us 
in order that we may serve ourselves and our fellow 
men. Work is the expression of intelligent action for 
a specified end. It is not industry, but idleness, that 
Is degrading. All kinds of work from the most me- 
nial service to the most exalted station are alike hon- 
orable. One of the earliest mandates laid on the hu- 
man race was to subdue the earth. That meant work. 

If he was not in accord with some of the current 
teachings about religion, he gave to his class a foun- 
dation for the firmest religious convictions. He pre- 
sented no mysteries or dogmas and never asked us 
to take a theory on faith, but supported every posi- 
tion by facts and logic. He believed in the Bible and 
constantly quoted it to illustrate his position. He 
divested religion and science of any conflict with 
each other, and showed that each rested on the com- 
mon basis of our ability to know the truth. 

To Garman was given a power which took Ms 


class up into a high mountain of spiritual life and 
left them alone with God, 

In him was no pride of opinion, no atom of self- 
ishness. He was a follower of the truth, a disciple of 
the Cross, who bore the infirmities of us all. Those 
who finished his course in the last term of senior 
year found in their graduating exercises a real com- 
mencement, when they would begin their efforts to 
serve their fellow men in the practical affairs of life. 
Of course it was not possible for us to accept imme- 
diately the results of his teachings or live altogether 
in accordance with them. I do not think he expected 
it. He was constantly reminding us that the spirit 
was willing but the flesh was strong, but that never- 
theless, if we would continue steadfastly to think 
on these things we would be changed from glory 
to glory through increasing intellectual and moral 
power. He was right. 

To many my report of his course will seem in- 
complete and crude. I am not writing a treatise but 
trying to tell what I secured from his teaching, and 
relating what has seemed important in it to me, 
from the memory I have retained of it, since I began 



it thirty-five years ago. He expected it to be supple- 
mented. He was fond of referring to it as a mansion 
not made with hands, incomplete, but sufficient for 
our spiritual habitation. What he revealed to us of 
the nature of God and man will stand. Against it 
"the gates of hell shall not prevail" 

As I look back upon the college I am more and 
more impressed with the strength of its f acuity, with 
their power for good. Perhaps it has men now with 
a broader preliminary training, though they then 
were profound scholars, perhaps it has men of 
keener intellects though they then were very exact 
in their reasoning, but the great distinguishing mark 
of all of them was that they were men of character. 
Their words carried conviction because we were 
compelled to believe in the men who uttered them. 
They had the power not .merely to advise but liter- 
ally to instruct their students. 

In accordance with custom our class chose three 
of its members by popular vote to speak at the com- 
mencement. To me was assigned the grove oration, 
which according to immemorial practice deals with 
the record of the class in a witty and humorous way, 



While my effort was not without some success I very 
soon learned that making fun of people in a public 
way was not a good method to secure friends, or 
likely to lead to much advancement, and I have 
scrupulously avoided it. 

In the latter part of my course my scholarship had 
improved, so that I was graduated cum laude. 

After my course was done I went home to do a 
summer's work on the farm, which was to be my 
last. I had decided to enter the law and expected to 
attend a law school, but one of my classmates wrote 
me late in the summer that there was an opportu- 
nity to go into the office of Hammond and Field at 
Northampton, so I applied to them and was ac- 
cepted. After I had been there a few days a most 
courteous letter came from the Honorable William 
P. Dillingham requesting me to call on him at 
Montpelier and indicating he would take me into 
his office. He recalled the circumstance when I 
found him in the Senate after I became Vice Presi- 
dent. But I had already reverted to Massachusetts, 
where my family had lived for one hundred and 
fifty years before their advent into Vermont* Had 



his letter reached me sooner probably it would have 
changed the whole course of my life, 

Northampton was the county seat and a quiet but 
substantial town, with pleasant surroundings and 
fine old traditions reaching back beyond Jonathan 
Edwards. It was just recovering from the depression 
of 1893, preparing to eliminate its grade crossings 
and starting some new industries that would add to 
the business it secured from Smith College, which 
was a growing institution with many hundreds of 

The senior member of the law firm was John (X 
Hammond, who was considered the leader of the 
Hampshire Bar. He was a lawyer of great learning 
and wide business experience, with a remarkable 
ability in the preparation of pleadings and an insight 
that soon brought him to the crucial point of a case. 
He was massive and strong rather than elegant, and 
placed great stress on accuracy. He presented a cause 
in court with ability and skilL The junior member 
was Henry P. Field, an able lawyer and a man of 
engaging personality and polish, who I found was 
an Alderman. That appeared to me at the time to be 



close to the Almighty in importance. I shall always 
remember with a great deal of gratitude the kind- 
ness o these two men to me. 

That I was now engaged in the serious enterprise 
of life I so fully realized that I went to the barber 
shop and divested myself of the college fashion of 
long hair. Office hours were from eight to about six 
o'clock, during which I spent my time in reading 
Kent's Commentaries and in helping prepare writs, 
deeds, wills, and other documents. My evenings I 
gave to some of the masters of English composition. 
I read the speeches of Lord Erskine, of Webster, and 
Choate. The essays of Macaulay interested me much, 
and the writings of Carlyle and John Fiske I found 
very stimulating. Some of the orations of Cicero I 
translated, being especially attached to the defense 
of his friend the poet Archias, because in it he dwelt 
on the value and consolation of good literature. I 
read much in Milton and Shakespeare and found 
delight in the shorter poems of Kipling, Field and 

My first Christmas was made more merry by get- 
ting notice that the Sons of the American Revolu- 



tion had awarded me the prize of a gold medal 
worth about one hundred and fifty dollars for writ- 
ing the best essay on "The Principles Fought for in 
the American Revolution/' in a competition open to 
the seniors of all the colleges of the nation. The no- 
tice came one day, and it was announced in the next 
morning papers, where Judge Field saw it before I 
had a chance to tell him* So when he came to the 
office he asked me about it. I had not had time to 
send the news home. And then I had a little vanity 
in wishing my father to learn of it first from the press, 
which he did. He had questioned some whether I 
was really making anything of my education, in pre- 
tense I now think, not because he doubted it but 
because he wished to impress me with the desirability 
of demonstrating it. 

But my main effort in those days was to learn the 
law* The Superior Court had three civil and two 
criminal terms each year in Northampton. When- 
ever it was sitting I spent all my time in the court 
room. In this way I became familiar with the prac- 
tical side of trial work, I soon came to see that the 
counsel who knew the law were the ones who held 



the attention of the Judge, took the jury with them, 
and won their cases. They were prepared. The office 
where I was had a very large general practice which 
covered every field and took them into all the Courts 
of the Commonwealth but little into the Federal 
Courts. I assisted in the preparation of cases and 
went to court with the members of the firm to watch 
all their trial work and help keep a record of testi- 
mony for use in the arguments. It was all a work of 
absorbing interest to me. 

The books in the office soon appeared too pon- 
derous for my study, so I bought a supply of students' 
text books and law cases on the principal subjects 
necessary for my preparation for the bar. These en- 
abled me to gain a more rapid acquaintance with the 
main legal principles, because I did not have to read 
through so much unimportant detail as was con- 
tained in the usual treatise prepared for a lawyer's 
library, which was usually a collection of all the au- 
thorities, while what I wanted was the main ele- 
ments of the law. I was soon conversant with con- 
tracts, torts, evidence, and real property, with some 
knowledge of Massachusetts pleading, and had a 



considerable acquaintance with the practical side of 
statute law. 

I do not feel that any one ever really masters the 
law, but it is not difficult to master the approaches 
to the law, so that given a certain state of facts it is 
possible to know how to marshal practically all the 
legal decisions which apply to them. I think coun- 
sel are mistaken in the facts of their case about as 
often as they are mistaken in the law. 

All my waking hours were so fully employed that 
I found little time for play. My college was but 
eight miles distant, yet I did not have any desire to 
go back to the intercollegiate games, though I was 
accustomed to attend the alumni dinner at com- 
mencement. There was a canoe club which I joined, 
on the Connecticut, about a mile over the meadow 
from the town where I often went on Sunday after- 
noons. I was full of the joy of doing something in the 
world. Another reason why I discarded all outside 
enterprises and kept strictly to my work and my 
books was because I was keeping my monthly expen- 
ditures within thirty dollars which was furnished me 
by my father. He would gladly have provided me 


more had I needed it, but I thought that was enough 
and was determined to live within it, which I did. 
Not much was left for any unnecessary pleasantries 
of life. 

Soon after I entered the office Mr. Hammond 
was elected District Attorney and Mr. Field became 
Mayor of the city, so that I saw something of the 
working of the city government and the adminis- 
tration of the criminal law. 

The first summer I was in Northampton came 
the famous free silver campaign of 1896. When Mr. 
Bryan was nominated he had the support of most of 
the local Democrats of the city, but he lost much of 
it before November. One of them sent a long com- 
munication to a county paper indorsing him. This I 
answered in one of the city papers. When I was home 
that summer I took part in a small neighborhood 
debate in which I supported the gold standard. The 
study I put on this subject well repaid me. Of course 
Northampton went handsomely for McKinley. 

With the exception of a week or two at home in 
the summer of 1 896 I kept on in this way with my 
work from September, 1895, to June, 1897. I then 



felt sufficiently versed in the law to warrant my tak- 
ing the examination for admission to the Bar. It 
was conducted by a County Committee of which Mr. 
Hammond was a member, but as I was his student 
he left the other two. Judge William G. Bassett and 
Judge William P. Strickland, to act on my petition. 
I was pronounced qualified by them and just before 
July 4, 1897, 1 was duly admitted to practice before 
the Courts of Massachusetts. My preparation had 
taken about twenty months. Only after I was finally 
in possession of my certificate did I notify my father. 
He had expected that my studies would take another 
year, and I wanted to surprise him if I succeeded and 
not disappoint him if I failed. I did not fail. I was 
just twenty-five years old and very happy. 

It was a little over eleven years from the time I 
left home for the Academy in the late winter of 
1886 until I was admitted to the Bar in the early 
summer of 1 897. They had been years full of expe- 
rience for me, in which I had advanced from a child 
to a man. Wherever I went I found good people, 
men and women, and young folks of my own age, 
who had won my respect and affection. From the 



hearthstone of my father's fireside to the court room 
at Northampton they had all been kind and helpful 
to me. Their memory will always be one of my most 
cherished possessions. 

My formal period of education was passed, though 
my studies are still pursued. I was devoted to the 
law, its reasonableness appealed to my mind as the 
best method of securing justice between man and 
man. I fully expected to become the kind of coun- 
try lawyer I saw all about me, spending my life in 
the profession, with perhaps a final place on the 
Bench. But it was decreed to be otherwise. Some 
Power that I little suspected in my student days took 
me in charge and carried me on from the obscure 
neighborhood at Plymouth Notch to the occupancy 
of the White House. 




IT is one thing to know how to get admitted to 
the Bar but quite another thing to know how 
to practice law. Those who attend a law school 
know how to pass the examinations, while those who 
study in an office know how to apply their knowl- 
edge to actual practice. It seems to me that the best 
course is to go to a school and then go into an office 
where the practice is general. In that way the best 
preparation is secured for a thorough comprehension 
of the great basic principles of the profession and for 
their application to existing facts. Still, one who has 
had a good college training can do very well by start- 
ing in an office. But in any case he should not go into 
the law because it appears to be merely a means of 
making a living, but because he has a real and sin- 
cere love for the profession, which will enable him to 
make the sacrifices it requires. 



When I decided to enter the law it was only nat- 
ural, therefore, that I should consider it the highest 
of the professions. If I had not held that opinion it 
would have been a measure of intellectual dishon- 
esty for me to take it for a life work. Others may be 
hampered by circumstances in making their choice, 
but -I was free, and I went where I felt the duties 
would be congenial and the opportunities for service 
large* Those who follow other vocations ought to 
feel the same about them, and I hope they do. 
&i My opinion had been formed by the high esti- 
mation in which the Bench and Bar were held by 
the people in my boyhood home in Vermont, It 
was confirmed by my more intimate intercourse 
with the members of the profession with whom I 
soon came in contact in Massachusetts after I went 
there to study law in the autumn of 1895. When 
I was admitted to practice two years later the law 
still occupied the high position of a profession. It 
had not then assumed any of its later aspects of a 

The ethics of the Northampton Bar were high. 
It was made up of men who had, and were entitled 


to have, the confidence and respect of their neigh- 
bors who knew them best. They put the interests of 
their clients above their own, and the public inter- 
ests above them both. They were courteous and tol- 
erant toward each other and respectful to the Court. 
This attitude was fostered by the appreciation of the 
uprightness and learning of the Judges. 

Because of the short time I had spent in prepa- 
ration I remained in the office of Hammond and 
Field about seven months after I was admitted to the 
Bar. I was looking about for a place to locate but 
found none that seemed better than Northampton. 
A new block called the Masonic Building was under 
construction on lower Main Street, and when it was 
ready for occupancy I opened an office there Feb- 
ruary i, 1898. I had two rooms, where I was to 
continue to practice law for twenty-one years, until 
I became Governor of Massachusetts in 1919. For 
my office furniture and a good working library I 
paid about $800 from some money I had saved and 
inherited from my grandfather Moor. My rent was 
$200 per year. I began to be self-sustaining except 
as to the cost of my table board, which was paid by 



my father until September, but thereafter all my ex- 
penses I paid from the fees I received. 

I was alone. While I had many acquaintances 
that I might call friends I had no influential sup- 
porters who were desirous to see me advanced and 
were sending business to me. I was dependent on 
the general public; what I had, came from them. My 
earnings for the first year were a little over $500. 

My interest in public affairs had already caused 
me to become a member of the Republican City 
Committee, and in December, 1898, 1 was elected 
one of the three members of the Common Council 
from Ward Two. The office was without salary and 
not important, but the contacts were helpfuL When 
the local military company returned that summer 
from the Cuban Campaign I did my best to get an 
armory built for them, I was not successful at that 
time but my proposal was adopted a little later. 
This was the beginning of an interest in military 
preparation which I have never relinquished. 

During 1899 I began to get more business. The 
Nonotuck Savings Bank was started early that year, 
and I became its counsel. Its growth was slow but 



steady. In later years I was its President, a purely 
honorary place without salary but no small honor. 
There was legal work about the county which came 
to my office, so that my fees rose to f i ,400 for the 
second year. 

I did not seek reelection to the City Council, as 
I knew the City Solicitor was to retire and I wanted 
that place. The salary was $600, which was not un- 
important to me. But my whole thought was on my 
profession. I wanted to be City Solicitor because I 
believed it would make me a better lawyer. I was 
elected and held the office until March, 1902. It 
gave me a start in the law which I was ever after 
able to hold, 

The office was not burdensome and went along 
with my private practice. It took me into Court 
some. In a jury trial I lost two trifling cases in an 
action of damages against the city for taking a small 
strip of land to widen a highway. I felt I should 
have won these cases on the claim that the land in 
question already belonged to the highway. But I 
prevailed in an unimportant case in the Supreme 
Court against my old preceptor Mr. Hammond. It 


is unnecessary to say that usually my cases with him 
were decided in his favor. The training in this office 
gave me a good grasp of municipal law, that later 
brought some important cases to me. 

In addition to the mortgage and title work of the 
Savings Bank, I managed some real estate, and had 
considerable practice in the settlement of estates. 
Through a collection business I also had some insol- 
vency practice. I recall an estate in Amherst and one 
in Belchertown, both much involved in litigation, 
which I settled. In each case Stephen S. Taft of 
Springfield was the opposing counsel. Perhaps there 
is no such thing as a best lawyer, any more than 
there is a best book, or a best picture, but to me Mr. 
Taft was the best lawyer I ever saw. If he was try- 
ing a case before a jury he was always the thirteenth 
juryman, and if the trial was before the court he was 
always advising the Judge. But he did not win these 
cases. He became one of my best friends, and we 
were on the same side in several cases in later years. 
One time he said to me: " Young man, when you 
can settle a case within reason you settle it. You will 
not make so large a fee out of some one case in that 



way, but at the end of the year you will have more 
money and your clients will be much better satis- 
fied/' This was sound advice and I heeded it* People 
began to feel that they could consult me with some 
safety and without the danger of being involved 
needlessly in long and costly litigation in court. 
Very few of my clients ever had to pay a bill of costs. 
I suppose they were more reasonable than other 
clients, for they usually settled their differences out 
of court. This course did not give me much experi- 
ence in the trial of cases, so I never became very pro- 
ficient in that art, but it brought me a very satisfac- 
tory practice and a fair income. 

I worked hard during this early period. The mat- 
ters on which I was engaged were numerous but did 
not involve large amounts of money and the fees 
were small. For three years I did not take the time 
to visit my old home in Vermont, but when I did 
go I was City Solicitor. My father began to see his 
hopes realized and felt that his efforts to give me an 
education were beginning to be rewarded. 

What I always felt was the greatest compliment 
ever paid to my professional ability came in 1903. 


In the late spring of that year William H. Clapp, 
who had been for many years the Clerk of the Courts 
for Hampshire County died. His ability, learning 
and painstaking industry made him rank very high 
as a lawyer. The position he held was of the first im- 
portance, for it involved keeping all the civil and 
criminal records of the Superior Court and the Su- 
preme Judicial Court for the County. The Justices 
of the Supreme Judicial Court appointed me to fill 
the vacancy. I always felt this was a judgment by 
the highest Court in the Commonwealth on my 
professional qualifications. Had I been willing to 
accept the place permanently I should have been 
elected to it in the following November. The salary 
was then $2,300, and the position was one of great 
dignity, but I preferred to remain at the Bar, which 
might be more precarious, but also had more possi- 
bilities. Later events now known enable any one to 
pass judgment on my decision. Had I decided other- 
wise I could have had much more peace of mind in the 
last twenty-five years. 

As the Clerk of the Courts I learned much relat- 
ing to Massachusetts practice, so that ever after I 


At the age of seven 

Undcrwoerd & Underwood 


knew what to do with all the documents in a trial, 
which would have been of much value to me if I had 
not been called on to give so much time to political 
affairs. These took up a large amount of my atten- 
tion in 1904 after I went back to my office, so that 
my income diminished during that year. I had been 
chosen Chairman of the Republican City Commit- 
tee. It was a time of perpetual motion in Massa- 
chusetts politics* The state elections came yearly in 
November, and the city elections followed in De- 
cember. This was presidential year. While I elected 
the Representatives to the General Court by a com- 
fortable margin at the state election I was not so suc- 
cessful in the city campaign. Our Mayor had served 
three terms, which had always been the extreme 
limit in Northampton, but he was nominated for a 
fourth time. He was defeated by about eighty votes. 
We made the mistake of talking too much about the 
deficiencies of our opponents and not enough about 
the merits of our own candidates. I have never 
again fallen into that error. Feeling one year was all 
I could give to the chairmanship I did not accept a 
reelection but still remained on the committee. 


My earnings had been such that I was able to 
make some small savings. My prospects appeared 
to be good. I had many friends and few enemies. 
There was a little more time for me to give to the 
amenities of life. I took my meals at Rahar's Inn 
where there was much agreeable company consist- 
ing of professional and business men of the town 
and some of the professors of Smith College* I had 
my rooms on Round Hill with the steward of the 
Clarke School for the Deaf. While these relations 
were most agreeable and entertaining I suppose I 
began to want a home of my own. 

After she had finished her course at the Univer- 
sity of Vermont Miss Grace Goodhue went to the 
Clarke School to take the training to enable her to 
teach the deaf. When she had been there a year or 
so I met her and often took her to places of enter- 

In 1 904 Northampton celebrated its two hundred 
and fiftieth anniversary. One evening was devoted 
to a reception for the Governor and his Council, 
given by the Daughters of the American Revolu- 



tion. Miss Goodhue accompanied me to the City 
Hall where the reception was held, and after stroll- 
ing around for a time we sat down in two cotn- 
fortable vacant chairs. Soon a charming lady ap- 
proached us and said that those chairs were reserved 
for the Governor and Mrs. Bates and that we should 
have to relinquish them, which we did. Fourteen 
years later when we had received sufficient of the 
election returns to show that I had been chosen Gov- 
ernor of Massachusetts I turned to her and said, 
"The Daughters of the American Revolution can- 
not put us out of the Governor's chair now." 

From our being together we seemed naturally to 
come to care for each other. We became engaged in 
the early summer of 1905 and were married at her 
home in Burlington, Vermont, on October fourth 
of that year. I have seen so much fiction written on 
this subject that I may be pardoned for relating the 
plain facts. We thought we were made for each 
other. For almost a quarter of a century she has 
borne with my infirmities* and I have rejoiced in 
her graces. 

After our return from a trip to Montreal we 



staid a short time at the Norwood Hotel but soon 
started housekeeping. We rented a very comfortable 
house that needed but one maid to help Mrs. Cool- 
idge do her work. Of course my expenses increased, 
and I had to plan very carefully for a time to live 
within my income. I know very well what it means 
to awake in the night and realize that the rent is 
coming due, wondering where the money is coming 
from with which to pay it. The only way I know of 
escape from that constant tragedy is to keep run- 
ning expenses low enough so that something may be 
saved to meet the day when earnings may be small. 
When the city election was approaching in De- 
cember I was asked to be a candidate for School 
Committee. It was a purely honorary office, which 
had no attraction for me, but I consented and was 
nominated. To my surprise another Republican took 
out nomination papers, which split the party and 
elected a Democrat. The open compliment was that 
I had no children in the schools, but the real reason 
was that I was a politician. That reputation I had 
acquired by long service on the party committee 
helping elect our candidates. The man they elected 



gave a useful service for several years and left me 
free to turn to avenues which were to be much more 
useful to me in ways for public service. I was also 
better off attending to my law practice and my new 

The days passed quietly with us until the next 
autumn, when we moved into the house in Massa- 
soit Street that was to be our home for so long. I 
attended to the furnishing of it myself, and when it 
was ready Mrs. Coolidge and I walked over to it. In 
about two weeks our first boy came on the evening 
of September seventh. The fragrance of the clematis 
which covered the bay window filled the room like 
a benediction, where the mother lay with her baby. 
We called him John in honor of my father. It was 
all very wonderful to us. 

We liked the house where our children came to 
us and the neighbors who were so kind. When we 
could have had a more pretentious home we still 
clung to it. So long as I lived there, I could be inde- 
pendent and serve the public without ever thinking 
that I could not maintain my position if I lost my 
office. I always made my living practicing law up 



to the time I became Governor, without being de- 
pendent on any official salary. This left me free to 
make my own decisions in accordance with what I 
thought was the public good. We lived where we 
did that I might better serve the people. 

My main thought in those days was to improve 
myself in my profession. I was still studying law 
and literature. Because I thought the experience 
would contribute to this end I became a candidate 
for the Massachusetts House of Representatives* In 
a campaign in which I secured a large number of 
Democratic votes, many of which never thereafter 
deserted me, I was elected by a margin of about two 
hundred and sixty, 

The Speaker assigned me to the Committees on 
Constitutional Amendments and Mercantile Af- 
fairs. During the session I helped draft, and the 
Committee reported, a bill to prevent large concerns 
from selling at a lower price in one locality than they 
did in others, for the purpose of injuring their com- 
petitor. This seemed to me an unfair trade practice 
that should be abolished. We secured the passage of 
the bill in the House, but the Senate rewrote it in 



such a way that it finally failed. I also supported a 
resolution favoring the direct election of United 
States Senators and another providing for woman 
suffrage. These measures did not have the approba- 
tion of the conservative element of my party, but I 
had all the assurance of youth and ignorance in sup- 
porting them, and later I saw them all become the 

The next year I was reelected, but in running 
against a man who had a strong hold on some of the 
Republican Wards, my vote was cut down. Serving 
on the Judiciary Committee, which I wanted because 
I felt it would assist me in my profession, I became 
much interested in modifying the law so that an 
injunction could not be issued in a labor dispute to 
prevent one person seeking by argument to induce 
another to leave his employer. This bill failed. While 
I think it had merit, in later years I came to see that 
what was of real importance to the wage earners was 
not how they might conduct a quarrel with their 
employers, but how the business of the country 
might be so organized as to insure steady employ- 
ment at a fair rate of pay. If that were done there 



would be no occasion for a quarrel, and if it were 
not done a quarrel would do no one any good. 

The work in the General Court was fascinating, 
both from its nature and from the companionship 
with able and interesting men, but it took five days 
each week for nearly six months, so that I thought 
I had secured about all the benefit I could by serving 
two terms and declined again to be a candidate. An- 
other boy had been given into our keeping April 13 
who was named Calvin, so I had all the more reason 
for staying at home. 

My law office took all my attention. I never had a 
retainer from any one, so my income always seemed 
precarious, but a practice which was general in its 
nature kept coming to me. In June of 1 909 I went 
to Phoenix, Arizona, to hold a corporation meeting. 
It was the first I had seen of the West. The great 
possibilities of the region were apparent, and the 
enthusiasm of the people was inspiring. It told me 
that our country was sure to be a success. 

For two years Northampton had elected a Demo- 
crat to be Mayor. He was a very substantial business 
man, who has since been my landlord for a long 



period. He was to retire, and the Republicans were 
anxious to elect his successor. At a party conference 
it was determined to ask me to run and I accepted 
the opportunity, thinking the honor would be one 
that would please my father, advance me in my pro- 
fession, and enable me to be of some public service. 
It was a local office, not requiring enough time to 
interfere seriously with my own work. 

Without in any way being conscious of what I 
was doing I then became committed to a course that 
was to make me the President of the Senate of Mas- 
sachusetts and of the Senate of the United States, the 
second officer of the Commonwealth and the coun- 
try, and the chief executive of a city, a state and a 
nation. I did not plan for it but it came. I tried to 
treat people as they treated me, which was much bet- 
ter than my deserts, in accordance with the precept 
of the master poet. By my studies and my course of 
life I meant to be ready to take advantage of oppor- 
tunities. I was ready, from the time the Justices 
named me the Clerk of the Courts until my party 
nominated me for President. 

Ever since I was in Amherst College I have re- 



membered how Garman told his class in philosophy 
that if they would go along with events and have the 
courage and industry to hold to the main stream, 
without being washed ashore by the immaterial 
cross currents, they would some day be men of 
power. He meant that we should try to guide our- 
selves by general principles and not get lost in par- 
ticulars. That may sound like mysticism, but it is 
only the mysticism that envelopes every great truth. 
One of the greatest mysteries in the world is the suc- 
cess that lies in conscientious work. 

My first campaign for Mayor was very intense. 
My opponent was a popular merchant, a personal 
friend of mine who years later was to be Mayor, so 
that at the outset he was the favorite. The only issue 
was our general qualifications to conduct the busi- 
ness of the city. I called on many of the voters per- 
sonally, sent out many letters, spoke at many ward 
rallies and kept my poise. In the end most of my 
old Democratic friends voted for me, and I won by 
about one hundred and sixty-five votes. 

On the first Monday of January, 1910,! began a 
public career that was to continue until the first 



Monday of March, 192,9, when it was to end by my 
own volition. 

Our city had always been fairly well governed and 
had no great problems. Taxes had been increasing. 
I was able to reduce them some and pay part of the 
debt, so that I left the net obligations chargeable to 
taxes at about $100,000. The salaries of teachers 
were increased. My work commended itself to the 
people, so that running against the same- opponent 
for reelection my majority was much increased. I 
celebrated this event by taking my family to Mont- 
pelier where my father was serving in the Vermont 
Senate. Of all the honors that have come to me I still 
cherish in a very high place the confidence of my 
friends and neighbors in making me their Mayor. 

Remaining in one office long did not appeal to 
me, for I was not seeking a public career. My heart 
was in the law. I thought a couple of terms in the 
Massachusetts Senate would be helpful to me, so 
when our Senator retired I sought his place in the 
fall of 1911 and was elected. 

The winter in Boston I did not find very satisfac- 
tory. I was lonesome. My old friends in the House 



were gone. The Western Massachusetts Club that 
had its headquarters at the Adams House, where 
most of us lived that came from beyond the Con- 
necticut, was inactive. The Committees I had, except 
the Chairmanship of Agriculture, did not interest 
me greatly, and to crown my discontent a Demo- 
cratic Governor sent in a veto, which the Senate 
sustained, to a bill authorizing the New Haven 
Railroad to construct a trolley system in Western 

But as chairman of a special committee I had 
helped settle the Lawrence strike, secured the ap- 
pointment of a commission that resulted in the pas- 
sage of a mothers' aid or maternity bill at the next 
session, and I was made chairman of a recess com- 
mittee to secure better transportation for rural com- 
munities in the western part of the Commonwealth. 

During the summer we did a large amount of 
work on that committee and made a very full and 
constructive report at the opening of the General 
Court in 19 13. This was the period that the Repub- 
lican party was divided between Taf t and Roosevelt, 
so that Massachusetts easily went for Wilson. But 



in the three-cornered contest I was reelected to the 

It was in my second term in the Senate that I 
began to be a force in the Massachusetts Legislature. 
President Greenwood made me chairman of the 
Committee on Railroads, which I very much wanted, 
because of my desire better to understand business 
affairs, and also put me on the important Commit- 
tee on Rules. I made progress because I studied sub- 
jects sufficiently to know a little more about them 
than any one else on the floor. I did not often speak 
but talked much with the Senators personally and 
came in contact with many of the business men of 
the state. The Boston Democrats came to be my 
friends and were a great help to me in later times. 

My committee reported a bill transforming the 
Railroad Commission into a Public Service Commis- 
sion, with a provision intending to define and limit 
the borrowing powers of railroads which we passed 
after a long struggle and debate. The Democratic 
Governor vetoed the bill, but it was passed over his 
veto almost unanimously. The bill came out for our 
trolley roads in Western Massachusetts and was 


adopted. He vetoed this, and his veto was overrid- 
den by a large majority. It was altogether the most 
enjoyable session I ever spent with any legislative 

It had been my intention to retire at the end of 
my second term, but the President of the Senate was 
reported as being a candidate for Lieutenant-Gover- 
nor, and as it seemed that I could succeed him I an- 
nounced that I wished for another election. When it 
was too late for me to withdraw gracefully President 
Greenwood decided to remain in the Senate* I 
wanted to be President of the Senate, because it was 
a chance to emerge from being a purely local figure 
to a place of state-wide distinction and authority. I 
knew where the votes in the Senate lay from the 
hard legislative contests I had conducted, and I had 
them fairly well organized when I found the Presi- 
dent was not to retire. 

In this year of 1913 the division in the Republi- 
can party in Massachusetts was most pronounced. 
Our candidate for Governor fell to third place at the 
election, and another Democrat was made chief ex- 
ecutive, carrying with him for the first time in a 

t I0 4] 


generation the whole state ticket. But my district 
returned me. When I reached my office the next 
morning I found President Greenwood had been 
defeated. Again I was ready. By three o'clock that 
Wednesday afternoon I was in Boston, and by Mon- 
day I had enough written pledges from the Republi- 
can Senators to insure my nomination for President 
of the Senate at the party caucus. It had been a real 
contest, but all opposition subsided and I was unani- 
mously nominated. 

The Senate showed the effects of the division in 
our party. It had twenty-one Republicans, seventeen 
Democrats and two Progressives. When the vote was 
cast for President on the opening day of the General 
Court, Senator Cox the Progressive had two votes, 
Senator Morgan the Democrat had seven votes, and 
I had thirty-one votes. I had not only become an 
officer of the whole Commonwealth, but I had come 
into possession of an influence reaching beyond the 
confines of my own party which I was to retain so 
long as I remained in public life. 

Although I had arrived at the important position 
of President of the Massachusetts Senate in January 


of 1914, I had not been transported on a bed of 
roses. It was the result of many hard struggles in 
which I had made many mistakes, was to keep on 
making them up to the present hour, and expect to 
continue to make them as long as I live. We are all 
fallible, but experience ought to teach us not to re- 
peat our errors, 

My progress had been slow and toilsome, with 
little about it that was brilliant, or spectacular, the 
result of persistent and painstaking work, which 
gave it a foundation that was solid. I trust that in 
making this record of my own thoughts and feeling 
in relation to it, which necessarily bristles with the 
first personal pronoun, I shall not seem to be over- 
estimating myself, but simply relating experiences 
which I hope may prove to be an encouragement to 
others in their struggles to improve their place in the 

It appeared to me in January, 1914, that a spirit 
of radicalism prevailed which unless checked was 
likely to prove very destructive. It had been encour- 
aged by the opposition and by a large faction of my 
own party, 



It consisted of the claim in general that in some 
way the government was to be blamed because every- 
body was not prosperous, because it was necessary to 
work for a living, and because our written constitu- 
tions, the legislatures, and the courts protected the 
rights of private owners especially in relation to large 
aggregations of property. 

The previous session had been overwhelmed with 
a record number of bills introduced, many of them 
in an attempt to help the employee by impairing the 
property of the employer. Though anxious to im- 
prove the condition of our wage earners, I believed 
this doctrine would soon destroy business and de- 
prive them of a livelihood* What was needed was 
a restoration of confidence in our institutions and in 
each other, on which economic progress might rest. 

In taking the chair as President of the Senate I 
therefore made a short address, which I had care- 
fully prepared, appealing to the conservative spirit 
of the people. I argued that the government could 
not relieve us from toil, that large concerns are nec- 
essary for the progress in which capital and labor all 
have a common interest, and I defended represen- 



tative government and the integrity of the courts. 
The address has since been known as "Have Faith 
in Massachusetts." Many people in the Common- 
wealth had been waiting for such a word, and the 
effect was beyond my expectation. Confusion of 
thought began to disappear, and unsound legislative 
proposals to diminish. 

The office of President of the Senate is one of 
great dignity and power. All the committees of the 
Senate are appointed by him. He has the chief place 
in directing legislation when the Governor is of the 
opposite party, as was the case in 1914. At the in- 
auguration he presides over the joint convention of 
the General Court and administers the oaths of office 
to the Governor and Council in accordance with a 
formal ritual that has come from colonial days, and 
is much more ceremonious than the swearing-in of 
a President at Washington. 

It did not seem to me desirable to pursue a course 
of partisan opposition to the Governor, and I did not 
do so, but rather cooperated with him in securing 
legislation which appeared to be for the public in- 
terest. The general lack of confidence in the country 



and the depression of business caused by the reduc- 
tion of the tariff rates in the fall of 1913 made it 
necessary to grant large appropriations for the relief 
of unemployment during the winter. But I could see 
the steady decrease of the radical sentiment among 
the people. 

In the midst of the following summer the World 
War enveloped Europe. It had a distinctly sobering 
effect upon the whole people of our country. It was 
very apparent in Massachusetts, where they at once 
began to abandon their wanderings and seek their 
old landmarks for guidance. The division in our 
party was giving way to reunion. Confidence was 

The Republican State Committee chose me to be 
chairman of the committee on resolutions at the state 
convention which met at Worcester, largely because 
of the impression made by my speech at the opening 
of the Senate. I drew a conservative platform, pitched 
in the same key, pointing out the great mass of legis- 
lation our party had placed on the statute books for 
the benefit of the wage earners and the welfare of 
the people, but declaring for the strict and unim- 



paired maintenance of our present social, economic 
and political institutions. While I did not deliver it 
well, in print it made an effective campaign docu- 
ment. After starting in the contest with little confi- 
dence, our strength increased, so that our candidate, 
Samuel W.McCall, received 198,627 votes and was 
defeated by only 1 1,8 15 plurality. All the rest of our 
state ticket was victorious. The political complexion 
of the Senate was completely changed. From a bare 
majority of twenty-one the Republican strength rose 
to thirty-three, and the opposition was reduced to 
seven Democrats. 

My district returned me for the fourth time and 
I was again made President of the Senate by a unani- 
mous vote. My opening address consisted of forty- 
two words, thanking the Senators for the honor and 
urging them in their conduct of business to be brief. 

As a presiding officer it has constantly been my 
policy to dispatch business. It always took a long 
time to get all the Committees of the General Court 
to make their reports, but I was able to keep the 
daily sessions of the Senate short. I also wanted to 
cut down the volume of legislation. In this some 



progress was made. The Blue Book of Acts and Re- 
solves for 1913 had 1,763 pages, for 1914 it had 
1,423, and for 1915 only 1,230, which was a very 
wholesome reduction of more than thirty per cent. 
People were coming to see that they must depend 
on themselves rather than on legislation for success. 

Massachusetts was beginning to suffer from a 
great complication of laws and restrictive regula- 
tions, from a multiplicity of Boards and Commis- 
sions, which had reached about one hundred, and 
from a large increase in the number of people on 
the public pay rolls, all of which was necessarily ac- 
companied with a much larger cost of state govern- 
ment that had to be met by collecting more revenue 
from the taxpayers. The people began to realize that 
something was wrong and began to wonder whether 
more laws, more regulations, and more taxes, were 
really any benefit to them. They were becoming tired 
of agitation, criticism and destructive policies and 
wished to return to constructive methods. 

When I went home at the end of the 1 9 1 5 session 
it was with the intention of remaining in private life 
and giving all my attention to the law. During the 


winter theLieutenant-Governor had announced that 
he would seek the nomination for Governor which 
caused some mention of me as his successor, but I 
was President of the Senate and did not propose to 
impair my usefulness in that position by involving it 
in an effort to secure some other office, so I gave the 
matter no attention. A very estimable man who had 
done much party service and was a brilliant plat- 
form speaker had already become a candidate, but 
although my record in the General Court was that 
of a liberal, the business interests turned to me. In 
this they were not alone as the event disclosed. To 
the people I seemed, in some way that I cannot ex- 
plain, to represent confidence. When the situation 
became apparent to me I went to Boston and made 
the simple statement in the press that I was a candi- 
date for Lieutenant-Governor, without any reasons 
or any elaboration. 

It was at this time that my intimate acquaintance 
began with Mr. Frank W. Stearns. I had met him in 
a casual way for a year or two but only occasionally. 
In the spring he had suggested that he would like 
to support me for Lieutenant-Governor. He was a 



merchant of high character and very much respected 
by all who knew him, but entirely without experi- 
ence in politics. He came as an entirely fresh force 
in public affairs, unhampered by any of the animos- 
ities that usually attach to a veteran politician. It 
was a great compliment to me to attract the inter- 
est of such a man, and his influence later became of 
large value to the party in the Commonwealth and 
nation. I always felt considerable pride of accom- 
plishment in getting the active support of men like 
him. While Mr. Stearns always overestimated me, 
he nevertheless was a great help to me. He never ob- 
truded or sought any favor for himself or any other 
person, but his whole effort was always disinterested 
and entirely devoted to assisting me when I indi- 
cated I wished him to do so. It is doubtful if any 
other public man ever had so valuable and unselfish 
a friend. 

My activities were such that I began to see more 
of the Honorable W. Murray Crane. When he came 
to Boston he was accustomed to have me at break- 
fast in his rooms at the hotel. Although he had large 
interests about which there was constant legislation 


he never mentioned the subject to me or made any 
suggestion about any of my official actions. Had I 
sought his advice he would have told me to consult 
my own judgment and vote for what the public 
interest required, without any thought of him. He 
confirmed my opinion as to the value of a silence 
which avoids creating a situation where one would 
otherwise not exist, and the bad taste and the dan- 
ger of arousing animosities and advertising an oppo- 
nent by making any attack on him. In all political 
affairs he had a wonderful wisdom,, and in every- 
thing he was preeminently a man of judgment, who 
was the most disinterested public servant I ever saw 
and the greatest influence for good government with 
which I ever came in contact. What would I not 
have given to have had him by my side when I was 
President! His end came just before the election of 

These men were additional examples of good in- 
fluences coming into my life, to which I referred in 
relating the experience of some of my younger days. 
I cannot see that I sought them but they came. Per- 
haps it was because I was ready to receive them. 


In the summer of 1915 politics became very ac- 
tive in Massachusetts. There was a sharp campaign 
for the nomination for Governor, my own effort 
to secure the Lieutenant-Governorship, and many 
minor contests. I shall always remember that Augus- 
tus P. Gardner, then in Congress, honored me by 
becoming one of the committee of five who con- 
ducted my campaign. Many local meetings were 
held, calling for much speaking. In the end Samuel 
W. McCall was renominated for Governor. I was 
named as candidate for Lieutenant-Governor by a 
vote of about 75,000 to 50,000. The news reached 
my father on the one-hundredth anniversary of the 
birth of his father. My campaign was carried on in 
careful compliance with the law, and the expense 
was within the allowed limit of $1,500, which was 
contributed by numerous people. I was thus under 
no especial obligation to any one for raising money 
for me. 

In the campaign for election I toured the state 
with Mr. McCall, making open-air speeches from 
automobiles during the day, and finishing with an 
indoor rally in the evening. It was the hardest kind 



of work but most fascinating, I remember that 
Warren G. Harding and Nicholas Longworth came 
into the state to promote our election and spoke with 
us at a large meeting one night at Lowell. 

I did not refer to my own candidacy, but spent all 
my time advocating the election of Mr* McCalL He 
was a character that fitted into the situation most 
admirably. He was liberal without being visionary 
and conservative without being reactionary. The 
twenty-five years he had spent in public life gave 
him a remarkable equipment for discussing the 
issues of a campaign. Whatever information was 
needed concerning the state government I was in a 
position to supply* Much emphasis was placed by 
me on the urgent necessity of preventing further in- 
creases in state and national expense and of a drastic 
reduction wherever possible. The state was ready for 
that kind of a message. 

When the election of 1915 came, Mr.McCall 
won by 6,313 votes and my plurality was 52,204. 
After having been held five years by Democrats, the 
Governorship of Massachusetts was restored to the 
Republican party, where it was to remain for the 



next fifteen years and probably much longer. The 
extended struggle in which the Republicans had 
been engaged to restore the people of Massachusetts 
to their allegiance to sound government under a re- 
united party had at last been successful. With that 
prolonged effort I had been intimately associated. 

The office of Lieutenant-Governor of Massachu- 
setts differs from that of most states. As already dis- 
closed he does not preside over the Senate. The con- 
stitution of our Commonwealth is older than the 
Federal Constitution and so followed the old colo- 
nial system, while most of the states have followed 
the Federal system. I was ex officio a member of the 
Governor's Council and chairman of the Finance 
and Pardon committees. As the Council met but 
one day each week I was pleased with the renewed 
opportunity I expected to have to practice law. But 
it soon developed that I must be away so much that 
I asked Ralph W, Hemenway to become associated 
with me, and he has since carried on my law office 
so successfully that it has become his law office rather 
than mine. 

It has become the custom in our country to dx- 


pect all Chief Executives, from the President down, 
to conduct activities analogous to an entertainment 
bureau. No occasion is too trivial for its promoters 
to invite them to attend and deliver an address. It 
appeared to be the practice of Governor McCall to 
accept all these invitations and when the time came, 
to attend what he could of them, and parcel the rest 
out among his subordinates. In this way I became 
very much engaged. It was an honor to represent 
the Governor, and a part of my duties according to 
our practice. Some days I went to several meetings 
for that purpose, ranging well into the night, so I 
was obliged to stay in Boston most of the time. 

It was during this period that I wrote nearly all 
of the speeches afterwards published in "Have Faith 
in Massachusetts." They were short and mostly 
committed to memory for delivery. This forced me 
to be a constant student of public questions. 

It did not seem best for me to take a very active 
part in the Presidential primaries of 1916, but I 
quietly supported the regular ticket for delegates, 
which was elected. We had at least three candidates 
for President in Massachusetts, with all of whom I 



was on friendly terms, as I had never allied myself 
with any faction of the party, but I felt the conven- 
tion did the wise thing in turning to the great states- 
man Charles Evans Hughes, and I supported him 
actively in the campaign for election. He carried 
Massachusetts by a small vote. My renomination 
came without opposition, as did that of the Gover- 
nor, who had a plurality of 46,240 at the election. 
My own was 84,930. 

During the summer I had been chairman of a 
special commission to consider the financial con- 
dition of the Boston Elevated Street Railway, and 
helped make a report recommending that the Gov- 
ernor be authorized to appoint a Board of Trustees 
who should have the control of this property and be 
vested with authority to fix a rate of fare sufficient 
to pay the costs of operation and a fair return to the 
stockholders. This was adopted by the General Court 
and solved the pressing problem of street railway 
transportation, which became so acute on account of 
the increasing costs of operation. Later the plan was 
applied to the other large company in the eastern 
part of the state. It was not perfect, but saved the 


properties from destruction and gave a fair means 
of travel at cost, which was to be ascertained by pub- 
lic authority. 

It was in the ensuing year that the United States 
entered the World War. While this took most of our 
thoughts off local affairs it did not prevent opposi- 
tion to the renomination of Governor McCall. Had 
it been successful it would have deferred any chance 
for me to run for Governor for two or three years 
and probably indefinitely. Under the circumstances 
most of my friends supported the Governor, and he 
was renominated by a wide margin. I had no oppo- 
sition. But interest in the election was not great, so 
that the vote was light. Nevertheless the Governor 
ran 90,479 votes ahead of his nearest competitor. 
In my own contest my opponent secured the Dem- 
ocratic, the Progressive and the Prohibition nomina- 
tion. I did not think the combination would prove 
helpful to him, and it did not. He fell off 77,000 
from the vote of his predecessor, and I won by 

While the United States had been engaged in the 
World War every public man, and I among them, 



had been constantly employed in its many activities. 
It increased every function of government from the 
administration in Washington down to the smallest 
town office. The whole nation seemed to be endowed 
with a new spirit, unified and solidified and willing 
to make any sacrifice for the cause of liberty. I was 
constantly before public gatherings explaining the 
needs of the time for men, money and supplies. 
Sometimes I was urging subscriptions for war loans, 
sometimes contributions to the great charities, or 
again speaking to the workmen engaged in con- 
struction or the manufacture of munitions. The re- 
sponse which the people made and the organizing 
power of the country were all manifestations that it 
was wonderful to contemplate. The entire nation 
awoke to a new life. 

It was no secret that I desired to be Governor. 
Under the custom of promotion in Massachusetts a 
man who did not expect to be advanced would 
scarcely be willing to be Lieutenant-Governor. But 
I did nothing in the way of organizing my friends 
to secure the nomination. It is much better not to 
press a candidacy too much, but to let it develop on 



its own merits without artificial stimulation. If the 
people want a man they will nominate him, if they 
do not want him he had best let the nomination go 
to another. 

The Governor very much desired to be United 
States Senator, but made no statement indicating he 
would seek that honor which would cause him to 
retire from his present office. Neither I nor my 
friends approached him or sought to influence him. 
Finally he called me aside and told me to announce 
that I would run for Governor, which I did. As no 
one knew what he had told me, some supposed I 
would run against him, which I would not have 

I had a strong liking for this veteran public ser- 
vant, and so I felt sure he liked me. He was away 
on many occasions, which under the constitution left 
me as Acting Governor, but at such times I was al- 
ways careful not to encroach upon his domain. While 
I may have differed with my subordinates I have 
always supported loyally my superiors. They have 
never found me organizing a camp in opposition to 
them, Finally the Governor sought the Senatorship, 


but before his campaign was under way he very 
manfully announced that as the country was at war 
he was entirely unwilling to divert public attention 
from the national defense to promote his political 
fortune and therefore withdrew. My nomination 
was again unanimous. 

The campaign was difficult. The really great 
qualities of my principal colleague, Senator John W. 
Weeks, had been displayed mostly in Washington 
and were not appreciated by his home people. A 
violent epidemic of influenza prevented us from 
having a State Convention, or holding the usual 
meetings, and the party organization was not very 
effective. In spite of my protest and the fact that we 
were engaged in a tremendous war, criticism was 
too often made of President Wilson and his admin- 
istration. My own efforts were spent in urging that 
the people and government of Massachusetts should 
all join in their support of the national government 
in prosecuting the war. While I was elected by only 
16,773, Senator Weeks to my lasting regret was de- 
feated, so the state and nation lost for a time the 
benefit of his valuable public service. Later he was 


in the Cabinet where he remained until, during my 
term, he retired due to ill health, and did not long 

Again I supposed I had reached the summit of 
any possible political preferment and was quite con- 
tent to finish my public career as Governor of Mas- 
sachusetts an office that has always been held in 
the highest honor by the people of the Common- 

To get a few days' rest I went to Maine the next 
Friday after the election. It was there that I was 
awakened in the middle of Sunday night to be told 
that the Armistice had been signed. I returned to 
Boston the following day to take part in the cele- 
bration. What the end of the four years of carnage 
meant those who remember it will never forget and 
those who do not can never be told. The universal 
joy, the enormous relief, found expression from 
all the people in a spontaneous outburst of thanks- 
giving, ' 

While the war was done, its problems were to 
confront the state and nation for many years. I was 
to meet them as Governor and President. They will 


remain with us for two generations. Such is the 
curse of war. 

In my inaugural address I dwelt on the need of 
promoting the public health, education, and the op- 
portunity for employment at fair wages in accord- 
ance with the right of the people to be well born, 
well reared, well educated, well employed and well 
paid. I also stressed the necessity of keeping govern- 
ment expenses as low as possible, assisting in every 
possible way the reestablishing of the returning vet- 
erans, and reorganizing the numerous departments 
in accordance with a recent change of the constitu- 
tion which limited their number to twenty. 

There being no Executive Mansion the Governor 
has no especial social duties, so I kept my quarters 
at the Adams House, as I had always lived there 
when in Boston, where Mrs.Coolidge came some- 
times; but as our boys needed her she staid for the 
most part in Northampton. She never had taken 
any part in my political life, but had given her at- 
tention to our home. It was not until we went to 
Washington that she came into public prominence 
and favor. 


In February, President Wilson landed at Boston 
on his return from France and spoke at a large meet- 
ing, where I made a short address of welcome, pledg- 
ing him my support in helping settle the remaining 
war problems. I then began a friendly personal re- 
lation with him and Mrs. Wilson which has always 
continued. Our service men were constantly return- 
ing and had to be aided in getting back into private 
employment. About $20,000,000 was paid them 
out of the state treasury. 

In the confusion attending the end of the war the 
work of legislation dragged on well into the sum- 
mer. While I did not veto many of the bills which 
were passed, I did reject a measure to increase the 
salaries of members of the General Court from 
$1,000 to $1,500, but my objection was not sus- 

In the great upward movement of wages that had 
taken place those paid by street railways had not 
been proportionately increased. It is very difficult 
to raise fares, so sufficient money for this purpose 
had not been available, though some advances had 
been made. Because of this situation a strike oc- 



curred in midsummer on the Boston Elevated that 
tied up nearly all the street transportation in the city 
district for three or four days. Finally I helped ne- 
gotiate an agreement to send the matter to arbitra- 
tion., so that work was resumed. The men secured a 
very material raise in wages, which I feel later con- 
ditions fully justified. 

In August I went to Vermont. On my return I 
found that difficulties in the Police Department of 
Boston were growing serious and made a statement 
to the reporters at the State House that I should sup- 
port Commissioner Edwin U. Curtis in his decisions 
concerning their adjustment. I felt he was entitled 
to every confidence. 

The trouble arose over the proposal of the police- 
men, who had long been permitted to maintain a 
local organization of their own 3 to form a union and 
affiliate with the American Federation of Labor. 
That was contrary to a long-established rule of the 
Department, which was agreed to by each member 
when he went on the force and had the effect of law. 

When the policemen's union persisted in its course 
I was urged by a committee appointed by the Mayor 


to interfere and attempt to make Commissioner 
Curtis settle the dispute by arbitration. The Gover- 
nor appoints the Commissioner and probably could 
remove him, but he has no more jurisdiction over 
his acts than he has over the Judges of the Courts; 
besides, I did not see how it was possible to arbitrate 
the question of the authority of the law, or of the 
necessity of obedience to the rules of the Depart- 
ment and the orders of the Commissioner. These 
principles were the heart of the whole controversy 
and the only important questions at issue. It can 
readily be seen how important they were and what 
the effect might have been if they had not been 
maintained. I decided to support them whatever the 
consequences might be. I fully expected it would 
result in my defeat in the coming campaign for re- 
election as Governor. 

While I had no direct responsibility for the con- 
duct of police matters in Boston, yet as the Chief 
Executive it was my general duty to require the laws 
to be enforced, so I remained in Boston and kept 
carefully informed of conditions. I knew I might be 
called on to act at any time. 



On Sunday, September seventh, I went to North- 
ampton by motor and remained overnight as I had 
an engagement to speak before a state convention of 
the American Federation of Labor at Greenfield 
Monday morning, which I fulfilled. I left that town 
at once for Boston, stopping at Fitchburg to call my 
office to learn if there were any new developments, 
I reached Boston after four o'clock that afternoon, 
and had a conference with some of the representa- 
tives of the city. I did not leave Boston again for a 
long time. 

When it became perfectly apparent that the po- 
licemen's union was acting in violation of the rules 
of the Department the leaders were brought before 
the Commissioner on charges, tried and removed 
from office, whereat about three-quarters of the 
force left the Department in a body at about five 
o'clock on the afternoon of Tuesday, September 
ninth. This number was much larger than had been 

The Metropolitan Police of more than one hun- 
dred, and the State Police of thirty or forty men, 
had been kept in readiness and were at once put on 


duty, the Motor Corps of the State Guard was held 
at the armory, and that night I kept the Attorney 
General, the Adjutant General and my Secretary at 
my hotel to be ready to respond to any call for help. 
As everything was quiet the Motor Corps went 
home. Around midnight bands of men appeared on 
the street, who broke many shop windows and car- 
ried away quantities of the goods which were on 
display. Many arrests were made, but the remain- 
ing police and their reinforcements were not suffi- 
cient to prevent the disorder. I knew nothing of this 
until morning. 

The disorder of Tuesday night was most repre- 
hensible, but it was only an incident. It had little 
relation to the real issues. I have always felt that I 
should have called out the State Guard as soon as the 
police left their posts. The Commissioner did not 
feel this was necessary. The Mayor, who was a man 
of high character, and a personal friend, but of the 
opposite party, had conferred with me. He had the 
same authority as the Governor to call out all the 
Guard in the City of Boston. It would be very un- 
usual for a Governor to act except on the request of 


the local author! ties . No disorder existed, and it 
would have been rather a violent assumption that it 
was threatened, but it could have been made. Such 
action probably would have saved some property, 
but would have decided no issue. In fact it would 
have made it more difficult to maintain the position 
Mr. Curtis had taken, and which I was supporting, 
because the issue was not understood, and the dis- 
order focused public attention on it, and showed just 
what it meant to have a police force that did not 
obey orders. 

On reaching my office in the morning it was re- 
ported to me that the Mayor was calling out the 
State Guard of Boston to report about five o'clock 
that afternoon. He also requested me to furnish 
more troops. I supplemented his action by calling 
substantially the entire State Guard to report at once. 
They gathered at their armories and were patrolling 
the streets in a few hours. When they came with 
their muskets in their hands with bayonets fixed 
there was little more trouble from disorder. 

It was soon reported to me that the Mayor, acting 
under a special law, had taken charge of the police 


force of the city, and by putting a Guard officer in 
command had virtually displaced the Commissioner, 
who came to me in great distress. If he was to be 
superseded I thought the men that he had discharged 
might be taken back and the cause lost. Certainly 
they and the rest of the policemen's union must have 
rejoiced at his discomfort. Thinking I knew what to 
do, I consulted the law as is my custom. I found a 
general statute that gives the Governor authority to 
call on any police officer in the state to assist him. I 
showed this to the Attorney General and to Ex- 
Attorney General Herbert Parker, who was advising 
Mr. Curtis. They thought I was right and consulted 
a profound judge of law, Ex- Attorney General Al- 
bert E. Pillsbury, who confirmed their opinions. 
The strike occurred Tuesday night, the Guard were 
called Wednesday, and Thursday I issued a General 
Order restoring Mr. Curtis to his place as Commis- 
sioner in control of the police, and made a proclama- 
tion calling on all citizens to assist me in preserving 
order, and especially directing all police officers in 
Boston to obey the orders of Mr. Curtis. 

This was the important contribution I made to 


the tactics of the situation, which has never been 
fully realized. To Mr. Curtis should go the credit for 
raising the issue and enforcing the principle that 
police should not affiliate with any outside body, 
whether of wage earners or of wage payers, but 
should remain unattached, impartial officers of the 
law, with sole allegiance to the public. In this I sup- 
ported him. 

When rumors started of a strike at the power 
house which furnished electricity for all Boston, a 
naval vessel was run up to the station with plenty of 
electricians on board ready to go over the side and 
keep the plant in operation. A wagon train of sup- 
plies, arms, and ammunition was brought in from 
Camp Devens and all the State Guard mobilized. A 
statement was made by President Wilson strongly 
condemning the defection of the police. Volunteer 
police began to come in, and over half a million dol- 
lars was raised by popular subscription to meet neces- 
sary expenses in caring for dependents of the Guard 
and even for helping the families of some of the 
police whp'left their posts. Later I helped these men 
in securing other employment, but refused to allow 



them again to be policemen. Public feeling became 
very much aroused. While offers of support came 
from every quarter the opposition was very active. 

Soon, Samuel Gompers began to telegraph me 
asking the removal of Mr. Curtis and the reinstate- 
ment of the union policemen. This required me to 
make a reply in which I stated among other things 
that "There is no right to strike against the public 
safety by any body, any time, any where." This 
phrase caught the attention of the nation. It was 
beginning to be clear that if voluntary associations 
were to be permitted to substitute their will for the 
authority of public officials the end of our govern- 
ment was at hand. The issue was nothing less than 
whether the law which the people had made through 
their duly authorized agencies should be supreme. 

This issue I took to the people in my campaign 
for reelection as Governor. Though I was hampered 
by an attack of influenza and spoke but three or four 
times, I was able to make the issue plain even beyond 
the confines of Massachusetts. Many of the wage 
earners both organized and unorganized, who knew 
I had always treated them fairly, must have sup- 


ported me, for I won by 125,101 votes. The people 
decided in favor of the integrity of their own gov- 
ernment. President Wilson sent me a telegram of 

I felt at the time that the speeches I made and 
the statements I issued had a clearness of thought 
and revealed a power I had not before been able to 
express, which confirmed my belief that, when a 
duty comes to us, with it a power comes to enable us 
to perform it. I was not thinking so much of the 
Governorship, which I already had, as of the grave 
danger to the country if the voters did not decide 
correctly. My faith that the people would respond 
to the truth was justified. 

The requirements of the situation as it developed 
seem clear and plain now, and easy to decide, but as 
they arose they were very complicated and involved 
in many immaterial issues. The right thing to do 
never requires any subterfuges, it is always simple 
and direct. That is the reason that intrigue usually 
falls of its own weight. 

After the election I had the work of making the 
appointments in order to reduce the entire state ad- 


ministration to the limit of twenty Departments and 
a special session of the General Court to deal with 
some street railway problems, so I had little time to 
think of politics. But I soon learned that many peo- 
ple in the country were thinking of me. 

The two years that I served as Governor were a 
time of transition from war to peace. New problems 
constantly arose, great confusion prevailed, nothing 
was settled and it was possible only to feel my way 
from day to day. But they were years of progress if 
partly in a negative way. The new position of the 
wage earners was perfected and solidified. A forty- 
eight-hour week for women and minors was estab- 
lished by a bill passed by the General Court, which 
I signed. The budget system went fully into effect 
the first year I was Governor and helped keep the 
state finances in good condition. The departments 
were reorganized, and the street railways given re- 
lief. In my second year a bill was passed allowing 
the sale of beer with a 2.75 per cent alcoholic con- 
tent, which I vetoed because I thought it was in vio- 
lation of the Constitution which I had sworn to de- 
fend. The veto was sustained. A constant struj 

At Amherst College 

Wide World Photos 


was going on to keep the costs of living down and 
the rate of wages up. A State Commission was held 
in office with increased powers to resist profiteering 
in the necessaries of life. In the depression of 1920 
some of our banks and manufacturers found them- 
selves in difficulties* All of these things reached the 
Governor in one form or another. But, in general, 
conditions were such that the entire efforts of the 
people were engaged in easing themselves down. 
There was little opportunity to direct their attention 
towards constructive action. They were clearing 
away the refuse from the great conflagration prepar- 
atory to rebuilding on a grander and more preten- 
tious scale. Nothing was natural, everything was 
artificial. So much energy had to be expended in 
keeping the ship of state on a straight course that 
there was little left to carry it ahead. But when I 
finished my two terms in January, 1921, the demo- 
bilization of the country was practically complete, 
people had found themselves again, and were ready 
to undertake the great work of reconstruction in 
which they have since been so successfully engaged. 
In that work we have seen the people of America 


create a new heaven and a new earth. The old things 
have passed away, giving place to a glory never be- 
fore experienced by any people of our world. 



NO doubt it was the police strike of Boston 
that brought me into national prominence. 
That furnished the occasion and I took ad- 
vantage of the opportunity. I was ready to meet the 
emergency. Just what lay behind that event I was 
never able to learn. Sometimes I have mistrusted 
that it was a design to injure me politically; if so it 
was only to recoil upon the perpetrators, for it in- 
creased my political power many fold. Still there was 
a day or two when the event hung in the balance, 
when the Police Commissioner of Boston, Edwin U. 
Curtis, was apparently cast aside discredited, and my 
efforts to give him any support indicated my own 
undoing. But I soon had him reinstated, and there 
was a strong expression of public opinion in our 

The year 1919 had not produced much on the 


positive side of our political life. President Wilson 
had returned from the peace conference at Paris de- 
termined to have the United States join the League 
of Nations as established in the final Treaty of Ver- 
sailles. He found opposition in the Senate both 
within and without his own party. In attempting to 
gain the approval of the country he had made his 
trip across the continent and returned a broken man 
never to regain his strength. For eight years he had 
so dominated his party that it had not produced any 
one else with a marked ability for leadership. Dur- 
ing these months the contest was raging in the Sen- 
ate over the peace treaty, but as a result it had put 
the leadership of our party in a negative position, 
which never appeals to the popular imagination, and 
besides in the country many Republicans favored a 
ratification of the treaty with adequate reservations. 
Many of the Senators on our side cast their vote for 
that proposal, which would have prevailed but for 
the opposition of the regular administration Demo- 
crats. In this confusion no dominant popular figure 
emerged in the Congress, but many ambitions be- 
came apparent. 


Following my decisive victory in November there 
very soon came to be mention of me as a Presiden- 
tial candidate. About Thanksgiving time Senator 
Lodge came to me and voluntarily requested that he 
should present my name to the national Republican 
convention. He wished to go as a delegate with that 
understanding. Of course I told him I could not 
make any decision in relation to being a candidate, 
but I would try to arrange matters so that he could 
be a delegate at large. When he left for Washington 
he gave out an interview saying that Massachusetts 
should support me. 

Very soon a movement of considerable dimen- 
sions started both in my home state and in other 
sections of the country to secure delegates who would 
support me. An" old friend and long time Secretary 
of the Republican National Committee, James B. 
Reynolds, was placed in charge of the movement, 
and I was gaining considerable strength. Senator 
Crane in his own quiet but highly efficient way 
became very interested and let it be known that I 
had his support, as did Speaker Gillett, who is now 
our Senator, but then represented my home district 


in Congress. They both went as delegates pledged 

Already several candidates were making a very 
active campaign. The two most conspicuous were 
Major General Leonard Wood and Governor Frank 
O. Lowden. Senator Hiram Johnson had consid- 
erable support, and in a more modest way Senator 
Warren G. Harding was in the field. In addition to 
these, several of the states had favorite sons. It soon 
began to be reported that very large sums of money 
were being used in the primaries. 

When I came to give the matter serious attention, 
and comprehended more fully what would be in- 
volved in a contest of this kind, I realized that I was 
not in a position to become engaged in it. I was 
Governor of Massachusetts, and my first duty was 
to that office. It would not be possible for me, with 
the legislature in session, to be going about the coun- 
try actively participating in an effort to secure dele- 
gates, and I was totally unwilling to have a large, 
sum of money raised and spent in my behalf. 

I soon became convinced also that I was in dan- 
ger of creating a situation in which some people in 


Massachusetts could permit it to be reported in the 
press that they were for me when they were not at 
heart for me and would give me little support in the 
convention. It would, however, prevent their hav- 
ing to make a public choice as between other candi- 
dates and would help them in getting elected as dele- 
gates. There was nothing unusual in this situation. 
It was simply a condition that always has to be met 
in politics. Of course the strategy of the other can- 
didates was to prevent me from having a solid Mas- 
sachusetts delegation. Moreover, I did not wish to 
use the office of Governor in an attempt to prosecute 
a campaign for nomination for some other office. I 
therefore made a public statement announcing that 
I was unwilling to appear as a candidate and would 
not enter my name in any contest at the primaries. 
This left me in a position where I ran no risk of 
embarrassing the great office of Governor of Massa- 
chusetts. That was my answer to the situation. 

Nevertheless a considerable activity was kept up 
in my behalf, and some money expended, mostly in 
circulating a book of my speeches. In the Massachu- 
setts primaries six or seven delegates were chosen 


who were for General Wood, and while the rest were 
nominally for me several of them were really more - 
favorable to some other candidate, partly because 
they supposed a Massachusetts man could never be 
nominated, and if the choice was going outside the 
state, they had strong preferences as between the 
other possibilities, 

At a state convention in South Dakota held vef y 
early to express a preference for national candidates 
I had been declared their choice for Vice-President. 
Some people in Oregon desired to accord me a like 
honor. As I did not wish my name to appear in any 
contest and did not care to be Vice-President I de- 
clined to be considered for that office. In my native 
state of Vermont it was proposed to enter my name 
in the primary as candidate for President, which I 
could not permit. Nevertheless it was written on the 
ballot by many of the voters at the polls. 

When the Republican National Convention met 
at Chicago, Senator Lodge, who was elected its chair- 
man, had indicated that he did not wish to present 
my name, so it was arranged that Speaker Gillett 
should make the nominating speech. Massachusetts 


had thirty-five delegates. On the first ballot I re- 
ceived twenty-eight of their votes and six others from 
scattering states, making my total thirty-four. As 
the balloting proceeded a considerable number of 
the Massachusetts delegates, feeling I had no chance, 
voted for other candidates, but a majority remained 
with me until the final ballot when all but one went 
elsewhere, and Senator Warren G. Harding was 
nominated. My friends in the convention did all 
they could for me, and several states were at times 
ready to come to me if the entire Massachusetts dele- 
gation would lead the way, but some of them refused 
to vote for me, so the support of other states could 
not be secured. 

While I do not think it was so intended I have 
always been of the opinion that this turned out to be 
much the best for me. I had no national experience. 
What I have ever been able to do has been the result 
of first learning how to do it. I am not gifted with 
intuition. I need not only hard work but experience 
to be ready to solve problems. The Presidents who 
have gone to Washington without first having held 
some national office have been at great disadvantage. 


It takes them a long time to become acquainted with 
the Federal officeholders and the Federal Govern- 
ment. Meanwhile they have had difficulty in deal- 
ing with the situation. * 

The convention of 1920 was largely under the 
domination of a coterie of United States Senators. 
They maneuvered it into adopting a platform and 
nominating a President in ways that were not satis- 
factory to a majority of the delegates. When the 
same forces undertook for a third time to dictate the 
action of the convention in naming a Vice-Presi- 
dent, the delegates broke away from them and lit- 
erally stampeded to me, 

Massachusetts did not present my name, because 
my friends knew I did not wish to be Vice-President, 
but Judge Wallace McCamant of Oregon placed me 
in nomination and was quickly seconded by North 
Dakota and some other states. I received about 
three-quarters of all the votes cast. When this honor 
came to me I was pleased to accept, and it was es- 
pecially agreeable to be associated with Senator 
Harding, whom I knew well and liked. 

When our campaign opened, the situation was 


complex. Many Republicans did not like the some- 
what uncertain tone of the platform concerning the 
League of Nations, Though it was generally con- 
ceded that the bitter-enders had dictated the plat- 
form there were some who felt it was not explicit 
enough in denouncing the League with all its works 
and everything foreign, and a much larger body of 
Republicans were much disappointed that it did not 
declare in favor of ratifying the treaty with reser- 

The Massachusetts Republican State Convention 
in the fall of 1 9 1 9 had adopted a plank favoring im- 
mediate ratification with suitable reservations which 
would safeguard American interests. While later 
the treaty had been rejected by the Senate it was still 
necessary to make a formal agreement of peace with 
the Central Powers, and for that purpose some treaty 
would be necessary. Many Republicans favored our 
entry into the League as a method of closing up the 
war period >and helping stabilize world conditions. 
Senator Crane had taken that position in Massachu- 
setts and repeated it again at Chicago. 

Since that time the situation has changed. The 


war period has closed and a separate treaty has been 
made and ratified. The more I have seen of the con- 
duct of our foreign relations the more I am con- 
vinced that we are better off out of the League. Our 
government is not organized in a way that would 
enable us adequately to deal with it. Nominally our 
foreign affairs are in the hands of the President. 
Actually the Senate is always attempting to inter- 
fere, too often in a partisan way and many times in 
opposition to the President. Our country is not ra- 
cially homogeneous. While the several nationalities 
represented here are loyal to the United States, yet 
when differences arise between European countries, 
each group is naturally in sympathy with the nation 
of its origin. Our actions in the League would con- 
stantly be embarrassed by this situation at home. 
The votes of our delegates there would all the time 
disturb our domestic tranquillity here. We have 
come to realize this situation very completely now, 
but in 1920 it was not so clear. 

At that time we were close to the war. Our sym- 
pathies were very much with our allies and a great 
body of sentiment in our country, which may be 


called the missionary spirit, was strongly in favor of 
helping Europe. To them the League meant an in- 
strument for that end. That was a praiseworthy 
spirit and had to be reckoned with in dealing with the 
people in a political campaign. This sentiment was 
very marked in the East where it had a strong hold 
on a very substantial element of the Republican party. 
While I was taking a short vacation in Vermont 
several thousand people came to my father's home 
to greet me. I spent most of my time, however, in 
preparing my speech of acceptance. The notification 
ceremonies were held on a pleasant afternoon in 
midsummer at Northampton in Allen Field, which 
was part of the college grounds, and its former 
President, the venerable Dr. L. Clark Seelye, pre- 
sided. The chairman of the notification committee 
was Governor Morrow of Kentucky. A great throng 
representing many different states was in attendance 
to hear my address. I was careful to reassure those 
who feared we were not proposing to continue our 
cooperation with Europe in attempting to solve the 
war problems in a way that would provide for a 
permanent peace of the world. 


Not being the head of the ticket, of course, it was 
not my place to raise issues or create policies, but I 
had the privilege of discussing those already declared 
in the platform or stated in the addresses of Senator 
Harding. This I undertook to do in a speech I made 
at Portland, Maine, where I again pointed out the 
wish of our party to have our country associated with 
other countries in advancing human welfare. Later in 
the campaign I reiterated this position at New York. 

This was not intended as a subterfuge to win 
votes, but as a candid statement of party principles. 
It was later to be put into practical effect by President 
Harding, in the important treaty dealing with our 
international relations in the Pacific Ocean, in the 
agreement for the limitation of naval armaments, 
in the proposal to enter the World Court, and finally 
by me in the World Peace. Treaty. All that I said 
and more in justification of support of the Republi- 
can ticket by those interested in promoting peace, 
without committing our country to interfere where 
we had little interest, has been abundantly borne out 
by the events. 

Shortly before election I made a tour of eight days, 


going from Philadelphia by special train west to 
Tennessee and Kentucky and south as far as North 
Carolina, We had a most encouraging reception on 
this trip, speaking out-of-doors, mostly from the rear 
platform during the day, with an indoor meeting at 
night. During the campaign I spoke in about a 
dozen states. 

The country was already feeling acutely the results 
of deflation. Business was depressed. For months 
following the Armistice we had persisted in a course 
of much extravagance and reckless buying. Wages 
had been paid that were not earned. The whole 
country, from the national government down, had 
been living on borrowed money. Pay day had come, 
and it was found our capital had been much im- 
paired. In an address at Philadelphia I contended 
that the only sure method of relieving this distress 
was for the country to follow the advice of Benjamin 
Franklin and begin to work and save. Our produc- 
tive capacity is sufficient to maintain us all in a state 
of prosperity if we give sufficient attention to thrift 
and industry. Within a year the country had adopted 
that course, which has brought an era of great plenty. 


When the election came it appeared that we had 
held practically the entire Republican vote and had 
gained enormously from all those groups who have 
been in this country so short a time that they still 
retain a marked race consciousness. Many of them 
had left Europe to escape from the prevailing con- 
ditions there, While they were loyal to the United 
States they did not wish to become involved in any 
old world disputes, were greatly relieved that the war 
was finished, and generally opposed to the League 
of Nations, Such a combination gave us an over- 
whelming victory. 

After election it was necessary for me to attend a 
good many celebrations. My home town of North- 
ampton had a large mass meeting at which several 
speeches were made. In Boston a series of dinners 
and lunches were given in my honor. Shortly before 
Christmas Mrs. Coolidge and I paid a brief visit to 
Mr. and Mrs. Harding at their home in Marion, 
Ohio. They received us in the most gracious man- 
ner. It was no secret to us why their friends had so 
much affection for them. 

We discussed at length the plans for his adminis- 


tration. The members of his Cabinet were consid- 
ered and he renewed the invitation to me, already 
publicly expressed, to sit with them. The policies he 
wished to adopt for restoring the prosperity of the 
country by reducing taxes and revising the tariflf 
were referred to more casually. He was sincerely 
devoted to the public welfare and desirous of im- 
proving the condition of the people. 

When at last another Governor was inaugurated 
to take my place and the guns on Boston Common 
were giving him their first salute, Mrs. Coolidge and 
I were leaving for home from the North Station on 
the afternoon train which I had used so much before 
I was Governor. It had only day coaches and no par- 
lor car, but we were accustomed to travel that way 
and only anxious to go home. For nine years I had 
been in public life in Boston. 

During the winter I made an address before the 
Vermont Historical Society at Montpelier and spoke 
later at the Town Hall in New York for a group of 
ladies who were restoring the birthplace of Theodore 


After a brief stay at Northampton, Mrs. Coolidge 
and I went to Atlanta where I spoke before the South- 
ern Tariff Association. A great deal of hospitality 
was lavished upon us by the state officials and the 
people in the city. In a few days we went to Ashe- 
ville, North Carolina, where we remained about two 
weeks. The Grove Park Inn entertained us with 
everything that could be wished, and the region was 

When the Massachusetts electors met, Judge Henry 
P, Field of the firm where I read law, who had moved 
my admission to the Bar, now had the experience of 
nominating me for Vice-President.Twenty-f our years 
had intervened between these two services which he 
performed for me. 

The time soon came for us to go to Washington. 
A large crowd of our friends was at the station to 
bid us goodbye although the hour was very early. 
We went a few days before March 4 in order to have 
a little time to get settled. The Vice-President and 
Mrs. Marshall met us and gave us every attention and 
courtesy. When Mr. and Mrs. Harding arrived, we 
went to the station to meet them and they took us 


back with them to the New Willard where we too 
were staying in the White House car President 
Wilson sent for them. 

About ten-thirty the next morning a committee 
of the Congress came to escort us to the White House 
where the President and Mrs. Wilson joined us and 
we went to the Capitol. Soon President Wilson sent 
for me and said his health was such it would not be 
wise for him to remain for the inauguration and 
bade me goodbye. I never saw him again except at 
a distance, but he sent me a most sympathetic letter 
when I became President. Such was the passing of 
a great world figure. 

As I had already taken a leading part in seven 
inaugurations and witnessed four others in Massa- 
chusetts, the experience was not new to me, but I 
was struck by the lack of order and formality that 
prevailed. A part of the ceremony takes place in the 
Senate Chamber and a part on the east portico, 
which destroys all serfiblance of unity and continu- 
ity. I was sworn in before the Senate and made a 
very brief address dwelling on the great value of a 
deliberative body as a safeguard of our liberties. 


It was a clear but crisp spring day out-of-doors 
where the oath was administered to the President by 
Chief Justice White. The inaugural address was able 
and well received. President Harding had an im- 
pressive delivery, which never failed to interest and 
hold his audience. I was to hear him many times in 
the next two years, but whether on formal occasions 
or in the freedom of Gridiron dinners, his charm and 
effectiveness never failed. 

When the inauguration was over I realized that 
the same thing for which I had worked in Massa- 
chusetts had been accomplished in the nation. The 
radicalism which had tinged our whole political and 
economic life from soon after 1900 to the World 
War period was passed. There were still echoes of 
it, and some of its votaries remained, but its power 
was gone. The country had little interest in mere 
destructive criticism. It wanted the progress that 
alone comes from constructive policies. 

It had been our intention to take a house in Wash- 
ington, but we found none to our liking. They were 
too small or too large. It was necessary for me to live 
within my income, which was little more than my 


salary and was charged with the cost of sending my 
boys to school. We therefore took two bedrooms 
with a dining room, and large reception room at the 
New Willard where we had every convenience. 

It is difficult to conceive a person finding himself 
in a situation which calls on him to maintain a posi- 
tion he cannot pay for. Any other course for me 
would have been cut short by the barnyard philos- 
ophy of my father, who would have contemptuously 
referred to such action as the senseless imitation of a 
fowl which was attempting to light higher than it 
could roost. There is no dignity quite so impressive, 
and no independence quite so important, as living 
within your means. In our country a small income 
is usually less embarrassing than the possession of a 
large one. 

But my experience has convinced me that an offi- 
cial residence with suitable maintenance should be 
provided for the Vice-President. Under the present 
system he is not lacking in dignity but he has no 
fixed position. The great office should have a settled 
and permanent habitation and a place, irrespective 
of the financial ability of its temporary occupant. 


While I was glad to be relieved o the responsibility 
o a public establishment, nevertheless, it is a duty 
the second officer of the nation should assume. It 
would be much more in harmony with our theory 
of equality if each Vice-President held the same po- 
sition in the Capital City. 

Very much is said and written concerning the 
amount of dining out that the Vice-President does. 
As the President is not available for social dinners 
of course the next officer in rank is much sought 
after for such occasions. But like everything else that 
is sent out of Washington for public consumption 
the reports are exaggerated. Probably the average of 
these dinners during the season does not exceed three 
a week, and as the Senate is in session after twelve 
o'clock each week day, there is no opportunity for 
lunches or teas. 

When we first went to Washington Mrs. Cool- 
idge and I quite enjoyed the social dinners. As we 
were always the ranking guests we had the privi- 
lege of arriving last and leaving first, so that we were 
usually home by ten o'clock. It will be seen that this 
was far from burdensome. We found it a most en- 



joyable opportunity for getting acquainted and could 
scarcely comprehend how anyone who had the priv- 
ilege of sitting at a table surrounded by representa- 
tives of the Cabinet, the Congress, the Diplomatic 
Corps and the Army and Navy would not find it 

Presiding over the Senate was fascinating to rne. 
That branch of the Congress has its own methods 
and traditions which may strike the outsider as pe- 
culiar, but more familiarity with them would dis- 
close that they are only what long experience has 
demonstrated to be the best methods of conducting 
its business. It may seem that debate is endless, but 
there is scarcely a time when it is not informing, and, 
after all, the power to compel due consideration is 
the distinguishing mark of a deliberative body. If 
the Senate is anything it is a great deliberative body 
and if it is to remain a safeguard of liberty it must 
remain a deliberative body. I was entertained and 
instructed by the debates. However it may appear 
in the country, no one can become familiar with the 
inside workings of the Senate without gaining a great 
respect for it. The country is safe in its hands. 



At first I intended to become a student of the Sen- 
ate rules and I did learn much about them, but I 
soon found that the Senate had but one fixed rule, 
subject to exceptions of course, which was to the ef- 
fect that the Senate would do anything it wanted to 
do whenever it wanted to do it. When I had learned 
that, I did not waste much time on the other rules, 
because they were so seldom applied. The assistant 
to the Secretary of the Senate could be relied on to 
keep me informed on other parliamentary questions* 
But the President of the Senate can and does exer- 
cise a good deal of influence over its deliberations. 
The Constitution gives him the power to preside, 
which is the power to recognize whom he will. That 
often means that he decides what business is to be 
taken up and who is to have the floor for debate at 
any specific time. 

Nor is the impression that it is a dilatory body 
never arriving at decisions correct. In addition to 
acting on the thousands of nominations, and the nu- 
merous treaties, it passes much more legislation than 
the House. But it is true that unanimous consent is 
often required to close debate, and because of the 


great power each Senator is therefore permitted to 
exercise which is often a veto power, making one 
Senator a majority of the ninety-six Senators great 
care should be exercised by the states in their choice 
of Senators. Nothing is more dangerous to good 
government than great power in improper hands. If 
the Senate has any weakness it is because the people 
have sent to that body men lacking the necessary 
ability and character to perform the proper func- 
tions. But this is not the fault of the Senate. It can- 
not choose its own members but has to work with 
what is sent to it. The fault lies back in the citizen- 
ship of the states. If the Senate does not function 
properly the blame is chiefly on them. 

If the Vice-President is a man of discretion and 
character, so that he can be relied upon to act as a 
subordinate in such position, he should be invited 
to sit with the Cabinet, although some of the Sena- 
tors, wishing to be the only advisers of the President, 
do not look on that proposal with favor. He may not 
help much in its deliberations, and only on rare oc- 
casions would he be a useful contact with the Con- 
gress, although his advice on the sentiment of the 


Senate is of much value, but he should be in the Cab- 
inet because he might become President and ought 
to be informed on the policies of the administration. 
He will not learn of all of them. Much went on in 
the departments under President Harding, as it did 
under me, of which the Cabinet had no knowledge. 
But he will hear much and learn how to find out 
more if it ever becomes necessary. My experience in 
the Cabinet was of supreme value to me when I 
became President. 

It was my intention when I became Vice-Presi- 
dent to remain in Washington, avoid speaking and 
attend to the work of my office. But the pressure to 
speak is constant and intolerable. However, I re- 
sisted most of it. I was honored by the President by 
his request to make the dedicatory address at the un- 
veiling of a bust of him in the McKinley Memorial 
at Niles, Ohio. I also delivered the address at the 
dedication of the Grant statue in Washington. 

During these two years I spoke some and lectured 
some. This took me about the country in travels that 
reached from Maine to California, from the Twin 
Cities to Charleston. I was getting acquainted. Aside 


from speeches I did little writing, but I read a great 
deal and listened much. While I little realized it at 
the time it was for me a period of most important 
preparation. It enabled me to be ready in August, 

An extra session of the Congress began in April 
of 1 92 1, which was almost continuous until March 
4, 1923, While an enormous amount of work was 
done it soon became apparent that the country ex- 
pected too much from the change in administration. 
The government could and did stop the waste of the 
people's savings, but it could not restore them. That 
had to be done by the hard work and thrift of the 
people themselves. This would take time. 

While the country was improving it was still de- 
pressed. There was some unemployment and a good 
deal of distress in agriculture because of the very low 
prices of farm produce and the shrinkage in land 
values. When I began to make political speeches in 
the campaign of 1922 I soon realized that the coun- 
try had large sections that were disappointed because 
a return of prosperity had not been instantaneous. 
Moreover the people had little knowledge of the great 



mass of legislation already accomplished, which was 
to prove so beneficial to them within a few months 
in the future. After I had related some of the record 
of the relief measures adopted they would come to 
me to say they had never heard of it and thought 
nothing had been done. While my party still held 
both the House and Senate it lost many seats in the 
election, which made the closing session of Congress 
full of complaints tinged with bitterness against an 
administration under which many of them had been 
defeated. That being the natural reaction it is useless 
to discuss its propriety. 

While these years in Washington had been full 
of interest they were not without some difficulties. 
Its official circles never accept any one gladly. There 
is always a certain unexpressed sentiment that a new 
arrival is appropriating the power that should right- 
fully belong to them. He is always regarded as in 
the nature of a usurper. But I think I met less of this 
sentiment than is usual, for I was careful not to be 
obtrusive. Nevertheless I could not escape being 
looked on as one who might be given something 
that others wished to have. But as it soon became 



apparent that I was wholly engaged in promoting 
the work of the Senate and the success of the admin- 
istration, rather than my own interests, I was more 
cordially accepted. 

In these two years I witnessed the gigantic task of 
demobilizing a war government and restoring it to 
a peace-time basis. I also came in contact with many 
of the important people of the United States and 
foreign countries. All talent eventually arrives at 
Washington. Most of the world figures were there 
at the Conference on Limitation of Armaments. 
Other meetings brought people only a little less dis- 
tinguished. While I had little official connection 
with these events the delegates called on me and I 
often met them on social occasions. 

The efforts of President Harding to restore the 
country became familiar to me. I saw the steady in- 
crease of the wise leadership of Mr. Hughes and 
Mr. Mellon in the administration of the govern- 
ment and the passing of some of the veteran figures 
of the Senate. Chief among these was Senator Knox 
of Pennsylvania. He was a, great power and had a 
control of the conduct of the business of the Senate, 


which he exercised in behalf of our party policies, 
that no one else approached during my service in 

In the winter of 1923 President Harding was far 
from welL At his request I took his place in deliv- 
ering the address at the Budget Meeting. While he 
was out again in a few days he never recovered. As 
Mrs. Coolidge and I were leaving for the long re- 
cess on the fourth of March I bade him goodbye. 
We went to Virginia Hot Springs for a few days 
and then returned to Massachusetts, where we re- 
mained while I filled some speaking engagements, 
and in July went to Vermont. We left the President 
and Mrs. Harding in Washington. I do not know 
what had impaired his health. I do know that the 
weight of the Presidency is very heavy. Later it was 
disclosed that he had discovered that some whom he 
had trusted had betrayed him and he had been 
forced to call them to account. It is known that this 
discovery was a very heavy grief to him, perhaps 
more than he could bear. I never saw him again. 
In June he started for Alaska and eternity. 





IT is a very old saying that you never can tell 
what you can do until you try. The more I see 
of life the more I am convinced of the wisdom 
of that observation. 

Surprisingly few men are lacking in capacity, but 
they fail because they are lacking in application. 
Either they never learn how to work, or, having 
learned, they are too indolent to apply themselves 
with the seriousness and the attention that is neces- 
sary to solve important problems. 

Any reward that is worth having only comes to 
the industrious. The success which is made in any 
walk of life is measured almost exactly by the 
amount of hard work that is put into it. 

It has undoubtedly been the lot of every native 
boy of the United States to be told that he will some 


day be President. Nearly every young man who 
happens to be elected a member of his state legisla- 
ture is pointed to by his friends and his local news- 
paper as on the way to the White House. 

My own experience in this respect did not differ 
from that of others. But I never took such sugges- 
tions seriously, as I was convinced in my own mind 
that I was not qualified to fill the exalted office of 

I had not changed this opinion after the Novem- 
ber elections of 1919, when I was chosen Governor 
of Massachusetts for a second term by a majority 
which had only been exceeded in 1 896. 

When I began to be seriously mentioned by some 
of my friends at that time as the Republican candi- 
date for President, it became apparent that there 
were many others who shared the same opinion as 
to my fitness which I had so long entertained. 

But the coming national convention, acting in 
accordance with an unchangeable determination, 
took my destiny into its own hands and nominated 
me for Vice-President. 

Had I been chosen for the first place, I could 


have accepted it only with a great deal of trepidation, 
but when the events o August, 1923, bestowed 
upon me the Presidential office, I felt at once that 
power had been given me to administer it. This was 
not any feeling of exclusiveness. While I felt quali- 
fied to serve, I was also well aware that there were 
many others who were better qualified. It would be 
my province to get the benefit of their opinions and 
advice. It is a great advantage to a President, and a 
major source of safety to the country, for him to 
know that he is not a great man. When a man be- 
gins to feel that he is the only one who can lead in 
this republic, he is guilty of treason to the spirit of 
our institutions. . 

After President Harding was seriously stricken, 
although I noticed that some of the newspapers at 
once sent representatives to be near me at the home 
of my father in Plymouth, Vermont, the official re- 
ports which I received from his bedside soon became 
so reassuring that I believed all danger past. 

On the night of August 2, 1923, I was awak- 
ened by my father coming up the stairs calling my 
name. I noticed that his voice trembled. As the only 


times I had ever observed that before were when 
death had visited our family, I knew that something 
of the gravest nature had occurred. 

His emotion was partly due to the knowledge 
that a man whom he had met and liked was gone, 
partly to the feeling that must possess all of our citi- 
zens when the life of their President is taken from 

But he must have been moved also by the thought 
of the many sacrifices he had made to place me 
where I was, the twenty-five-mile drives in storms 
and in zero weather over our mountain roads to 
carry me to the academy and all the tenderness and 
care he had lavished upon me in the thirty-eight 
years since the death of my mother in the hope that 
I might sometime rise to a position of importance, 
which he now saw realized. 

He had been the first to address me as President 
of the United States. It was the culmination of the 
lifelong desire of a father for the success of his son. 

He placed in my hands an official report and 
told me that President Harding had just passed 
away. My wife and I at once dressed. 


Before leaving the room I knelt down and, with, 
the same prayer with which I have since approached 
the altar of the church, asked God to bless the 
American people and give me power to serve them. 

My first thought was to express my sympathy for 
those who had been bereaved and after that was 
done to attempt to reassure the country with the 
knowledge that I proposed no sweeping displace- 
ment of the men then in office and that there were 
to be no violent changes in the administration of 
affairs. As soon as I had dispatched a telegram to 
Mrs. Harding, I therefore issued a short public 
statement declaratory of that purpose. 

Meantime, I had been examining the Constitu- 
tion to determine what might be necessary for quali- 
fying by taking the oath of office. It is not clear that 
any additional oath is required beyond what is taken 
by the Vice-President when he is sworn into office. 
It is the same form as that taken by the President. 

Having found this form in the Constitution I had 
it set up on the typewriter and the oath was admin- 
istered by my father in his capacity as a notary pub- 
lic, an office he had held for a great many years. 


The oath was taken in what we always called the 
sitting room by the light of the kerosene lamp, 
which was the most modern form of lighting that 
had then reached the neighborhood. The Bible 
which had belonged to my mother lay on the table at 
my hand. It was not officially used, as it is not the 
practice in Vermont or Massachusetts to use a Bible 
in connection with the administration of an oath. 

Besides my father and myself, there were present 
my wife, Senator Dale, who happened to be stop- 
ping a few miles away, my stenographer, and my 

The picture of this scene has been painted with 
historical accuracy by an artist named Keller, who 
went to Plymouth for that purpose. Although the 
likenesses are not good, everything in relation to 
the painting is correct. 

Where succession to the highest office in the land 
is by inheritance or appointment, no doubt there 
have been kings who have participated in the induc- 
tion of their sons into their office, but in republics 
where the succession conies by an election I do not 
know of any other case in history where a father has 


administered to his son the qualifying oath of office 
which made him the chief magistrate of a nation. 
It seemed a simple and natural thing to do at the 
time, but I can now realize something of the dra- 
matic force of the event. 

This room was one which was already filled with 
sacred memories for me. In it my sister and my 
stepmother passed their last hours. It was associ- 
ated with my boyhood recollections of my own 
mother, who sat and reclined there during her long 
invalid years, though she passed away in an adjoin- 
ing room where my father was to follow her within 
three years from this eventful night. 

When I started for Washington that morning I 
turned aside from the main road to make a short 
devotional visit to the grave of my mother. It had 
been a comfort to me during my boyhood when I 
was troubled to be near her last resting place, even 
in the dead of night. Some way, that morning, she 
seemed very near to me. 

A telegram was sent to my pastor, Dr. Jason 
Noble Pierce, to meet me on my arrival at Wash- 
ington that evening, which he did. 


I found the Cabinet mostly scattered. Some mem- 
bers had been with the late President and some were 
in Europe. The Secretary of State, Mr, Hughes, and 
myself, at once began the preparation of plans for 
the funeral. 

I issued the usual proclamation. 

The Washington services were held in the ro- 
tunda of the Capitol, followed by a simple service 
and interment at Marion, Ohio, which I attended 
with the Cabinet and a large number of officers of 
the government. 

The nation was grief-stricken. Especially notice- 
able was the deep sympathy every one felt for Mrs. 
Harding. Through all this distressing period her 
bearing won universal commendation. Her attitude 
of sympathy and affection towards Mrs. Coolidge 
and myself was an especial consolation to us. 

The first Sunday after reaching Washington we 
attended services, as we were accustomed to do, at 
the First Congregational Church. Although I had 
been rather constant in my attendance, I had never 
joined the church. 

While there had been religious services, there was 


no organized church society near my boyhood home. 
Among other things, I had some fear as to my abil- 
ity to set that example which I always felt ought to 
denote the life of a church member. I am inclined 
to think now that this was a counsel of darkness. 

This first service happened to come on commun- 
ion day. Our pastor, Dr. Pierce, occupied the pul- 
pit, and, as he can under the practice of the Congre- 
gational Church, and always does, because of his 
own very tolerant attitude, he invited all those who 
believed in the Christian faith, whether church mem- 
bers or not, to join in partaking of the communion. 

For the first time I accepted this invitation, which 
I later learned he had observed, and in a few days 
without any intimation to me that it was to be done, 
considering this to be a sufficient public profession 
of my faith, the church voted me into its member- 

This declaration of their belief in me was a great 

Had I been approached in the usual way to join 
the church after I became President, I should have 
feared that such action might appear to be a pose, 


and should have hesitated to accept. From what 
might have been a misguided conception I was thus 
saved by some influence which I had not anticipated. 

But if I had not voluntarily gone to church and 
partaken of communion, this blessing would not 
have come to me. 

Fate bestows its rewards on those who put them- 
selves in the proper attitude to receive them. 

During my service in Washington I had seen a 
large amount of government business. Peace had 
been made with the Central Powers, the tariff re- 
vised, the budget system adopted, taxation reduced, 
large payments made on the national debt, the Vet- 
erans' Bureau organized, important farm legislation 
passed, public expenditures greatly decreased, the 
differences with Colombia of twenty years' standing 
composed, and the Washington Conference had 
reached an epoch-making agreement for the prac- 
tical limitation of naval armaments. 

It would be difficult to find two years of peace- 
time history in all the record of our republic that 
were marked with more important and far-reaching 
accomplishments. From my position as President of 


the Senate, and in my attendance upon the sessions 
of the Cabinet, I thus came into possession of a very 
wide knowledge of the details of the government* 

In spite of the remarkable record which had al- 
ready been made, much remained to be done. While 
anything that relates to the functions of the govern- 
ment is of enormous interest to me, its economic re- 
lations have always had a peculiar fascination for me. 

Though these are necessarily predicated on order 
and peace, yet our people are so thoroughly law- 
abiding and our foreign relations are so happy that 
the problem of government action which is to carry 
its benefits into the homes of all the people becomes 
almost entirely confined to the realm of economics. 

My personal experience with business had been 
such as comes to a country lawyer. 

My official experience with government business 
had been of a wide range. As Mayor, I had charge 
of the financial affairs of the City of Northampton. 
As Lieutenant-Governor, I was Chairman of the 
Committee on Finance of the Governor's Council, 
which had to authorize every cent of the expend- 
itures of the Commonwealth before they could be 



made. As Governor, I was chargeable with re- 
sponsibility both for appropriations and for expend- 

My fundamental idea of both private and public 
business came first from my father. He had the 
strong New England trait of great repugnance at 
seeing anything wasted. He was a generous and 
charitable man, but he regarded waste as a moral 

Wealth comes from industry and from the hard 
experience of human toil. To dissipate it in waste 
and extravagance is disloyalty to- humanity. This is 
by no means a doctrine of parsimony. Both men and 
nations should live in accordance with their means 
and devote their substance not only to productive 
industry, but to the creation of the various forms of 
beauty and the pursuit of culture which give adorn- 
ments to the art of life. 

When I became President it was perfectly appar- 
ent that the key by which the way could be opened 
to national progress was constructive economy. Only 
by the use of that policy could the high rates of tax- 
ation, which were retarding our development and 


prosperity, be diminished, and the enormous burden 
of our public debt be reduced. 

Without impairing the efficient operation o all 
the functions of the government, I have steadily and 
without ceasing pressed on in that direction. This 
policy has encouraged enterprise, made possible the 
highest rate of wages which has ever existed, re- 
turned large profits, brought to the homes of the 
people the greatest economic benefits they ever en- 
joyed, and given to the country as a whole an unex- 
ampled era of prosperity. This well-being of my 
country has given me the chief satisfaction of my 

One of my most pleasant memories will be the 
friendly relations which I have always had with the 
representatives of the press in Washington. I shall 
always remember that at the conclusion of the first 
regular conference I held with them at the White 
House office they broke into hearty applause. 

I suppose that in answering their questions I had 
been fortunate enough to tell them what they wanted 
to know in such a way that they could make use of it. 

While there have been newspapers which sup- 


ported me, of course there have been others which 
opposed me, but they have usually been fair. I shall 
always consider it the highest tribute to my admin- 
istration that the opposition have based so little of 
their criticism on what I have really said and done. 

I have often said that there was no cause for feel- 
ing disturbed at being misrepresented in the press. 
It would be only when they began to say things det- 
rimental to me which were true that I should feel 

Perhaps one of the reasons I have been a target 
for so little abuse is because I have tried to refrain 
from abusing other people. 

The words of the President have an enormous 
weight and ought not to be used indiscriminately. 

It would be exceedingly easy to set the country 
all by the ears and foment hatreds and jealousies, 
which, by destroying faith and confidence, would 
help nobody and harm everybody. The end would 
be the destruction of all progress. 

While every one knows that evils exist, there is 
yet sufficient good in the people to supply material 
for most of the comment that needs to be made. 


The only way I know to drive out evil from the 
country is by the constructive method of filling it 
with good* The country is better off tranquilly con- 
sidering its blessings and merits, and earnestly striv- 
ing to secure more of them, than it would be in nurs- 
ing hostile bitterness about its deficiencies and faults. 

Notwithstanding the broad general knowledge 
which I had of the government, when I reached 
Washington I found it necessary to make an exten- 
sive survey of the various Departments to acquaint 
myself with details. This work had to be done inten- 
sively from the first of August to the middle of No- 
vember, in order to have the background and knowl- 
edge which would enable me to discuss the state of 
the Union in my first Message to the Congress* 

Although meantime I was pressed with invita- 
tions to make speeches, I did not accept any of them. 
The country was in mourning and I felt it more ap- 
propriate to make my first declaration in my Mes- 
sage to the Congress. Of course, I opened the Red 
Cross Convention in October, which was an official 
function for me as its President. 

I was especially fortunate in securing C. Bascom 


Slemp as my Secretary, who had been a member of 
the House for many years and had a wide acquaint- 
ance with public men and the workings of legisla- 
tive machinery. His advice was most helpful. I had 
already served with all the members of the Cabinet, 
which perhaps was one reason I found them so sym- 

Among its membership were men of great ability 
who have served their country with a capacity which 
I do not believe was ever exceeded by any former 
Cabinet officers, 

A large amount was learned from George Harvey, 
Ambassador to England, concerning the European 
situation. He not only had a special aptitude for 
gathering and digesting information of that nature, 
but had been located at London for two years, where 
most of it centered. 

I called in a great many people from all the dif- 
ferent walks of life over the country. Among the first 
to come voluntarily were the veteran President and 
the Secretary of the American Federation of Labor, 
Mr.Gompers and Mr. Morrison. They brought a 
formal resolution expressive of personal regard for 



me and assurance of loyal support for the govern- 

Farm organizations and business men, publishers,, 
educators, and many others all had to be consulted. 

It has been my policy to seek information and ad- 
vice wherever I could find it. I have never relied on 
any particular person to be my unofficial adviser. I 
have let the merits of each case and the soundness of 
all advice speak for themselves. My counselors have 
been those provided by the Constitution and the law. 

Due largely to this careful preparation, my Mes- 
sage was well received. No other public utterance 
of mine had been given greater approbation. 

Most of the praise was sincere. But there were 
some quarters in the opposing party where it was 
thought it would be good strategy to encourage my 
party to nominate me, thinking that it would be easy 
to accomplish my defeat. I do not know whether 
their judgment was wrong or whether they overdid 
the operation, so that, when they stopped speaking 
in my praise they found they could not change the 
opinion of the people which they had helped to 


I have seen a great many attempts at political 
strategy in my day and elaborate plans made to en- 
compass the destruction of this or that public man. 
I cannot now think of any that did not react with 
overwhelming force upon the perpetrators, some- 
times destroying them and sometimes giving their 
proposed victim an opportunity to demonstrate his 
courage, strength and soundness, which increased his 
standing with the people and raised him to higher 

There is only one form of political strategy in 
which I have any confidence, and that is to try tQ do 
the right thing and sometimes be able to succeed. 

Many people at once began to speak about nomi- 
nating me to lead my party in the next campaign. 
I did not take any position in relation to their efforts. 
Unless the nomination came to me in a natural way, 
rather than as the result of an artificial campaign, I 
did not feel it would be of any value. 

The people ought to make their choice on a great 
question of that kind without the influence that 
could be exerted by a President in office. 

After the favorable reception which was given to 


my Message, I stated at the Gridiron Dinner that I 
should be willing to be a candidate. The convention 
nominated me the next June by a vote which was 
practically unanimous. 

With the exception o the occasion of my notifi- 
cation, I did not attend any partisan meetings or 
make any purely political speeches during the cam- 
paign. I spoke several times at the dedication of a 
monument, the observance of the anniversary of an 
historic event, at a meeting of some commercial 
body, or before some religious gathering. The cam- 
paign was magnificently managed by William M. 
Butler and as it progressed the final result became 
more and more apparent. 

My own participation was delayed by the death 
of my son Calvin, which occurred on the seventh of 
July. He was a boy of much promise, proficient in 
his studies, with a scholarly mind, who had just 
turned sixteen. 

He had a remarkable insight into things* 

The day I became President he had just started 
to work in a tobacco field. When one of his fellow 
laborers said to him, "If my father was President I 


would not work in a tobacco field/ ' Calvin replied, 
"If my father were your father, you would." 

After he was gone some one sent us a letter he had 
written about the same time to a young man who 
had congratulated him on being the first boy ' in the 
land. To this he had replied that he had done noth- 
ing, and so did not merit the title, which should go 
to c 'some boy who had distinguished himself through 
his own actions/' 

We do not know what might have happened to 
him under other circumstances, but if I had not been 
President he would not have raised a blister on his 
toe, which resulted in blood poisoning, playing lawn 
tennis in the South Grounds. 

In his suffering he was asking me to make him 
well. I could not. 

When he went the power and the glory of the 
Presidency went with him* 

The ways of Providence are often beyond our 
understanding. It seemed to me that the world had 
need of the work that it was probable he could do. 

I do not know why such a price was exacted for 
occupying the White House. 


Before her marriage to Calvin Coolidge 


Sustained by the great outpouring of sympathy 
from all over the nation, my wife and I bowed to the 
Supreme Will and with such courage as we had went 
on in the discharge of our duties. 

In less than two years my father followed him. 

At his advanced age he had overtaxed his strength 
receiving the thousands of visitors who went to my 
old home at Plymouth. It was all a great satisfaction 
to him and he would not have had it otherwise. 

When I was there and visitors were kept from the 
house for a short period, he would be really dis- 
tressed in the thought that they could not see all they 
wished and he would go out where they were him- 
self and mingle among them. 

I knew for some weeks that he was passing his 
last days. I sent to bring him to Washington, but he 
clung to his old home. 

It was a sore trial not to be able to be with him, 
but I had to leave him where he most wished to be. 
When his doctors advised me that he could survive 
only a short time I started to visit him, but he sank 
to rest while I was on my way. 

For my personal contact with him during his last 


months I had to resort to the poor substitute of the 
telephone. When I reached home he was gone. 
It costs a great deal to be President. 



A recall the mounting events of the years I 
spent in Washington, I appreciate how im- 
possible it is to convey an adequate reali- 
zation of the office of President. A few short par- 
agraphs in the Constitution of the United States 
describe all his fundamental duties. Various laws 
passed over a period of nearly a century and a half 
have supplemented his authority. All of his actions 
can be analyzed. All of his goings and comings can 
be recited. The details of his daily life can be made 
known. The effect of his policies on his own country 
and on the world at large can be estimated. His 
methods of work, his associates, his place of abode, 
can all be described. But the relationship created by 
all these and more, which constitutes the magnitude 
of the office, does not yield to definition. Like the 
glory of a morning sunrise, it can only be experi- 
enced it can not be told. 


In the discharge of the duties of the office there 
is one rule of action more important than all others, 
It consists in never doing anything that some one 
else can do for you. Like many other good rules, it 
is proven by its exceptions. But it indicates a course 
that should be very strictly followed in order to pre- 
vent being so entirely devoted to trifling details that 
there will be little opportunity to give the necessary 
consideration to policies of larger importance. 

Like some other rules, this one has an important 
corollary which must be carefully observed in order 
to secure success. It is not sufficient to entrust details 
to some one else. They must be entrusted to some 
one who is competent. The Presidency is primarily 
an executive office. It is placed at the apex of our 
system of government. It is a place of last resort to 
which all questions are brought that others have not 
been able to answer. The ideal way for it to function 
is to assign to the various positions men of sufficient 
ability so that they can solve all the problems that 
arise under their jurisdiction. If there is a trouble- 
some situation in Nicaragua, a General McCoy can 
manage it. If we have differences with Mexico, a 


Morrow can compose them. If there is unrest in the 
Philippines, a Stimson can quiet them. About a 
dozen able, courageous, reliable and experienced men 
in the House and the Senate can reduce the problem 
of legislation almost to a vanishing point. 

While it is wise for the President to get all the 
competent advice possible, final judgments are nec- 
essarily his own. No one can share with him the re- 
sponsibility for them. No one can make his deci- 
sions for him. He stands at the center of things where 
no one else can stand. If others make mistakes, they 
can be relieved, and oftentimes a remedy can be pro- 
vided. But he can not retire. His decisions are final 
and usually irreparable. This constitutes the appal- 
ling burden of his office. Not only the welfare of 
120,000,000 of his countrymen, but oftentimes the 
peaceful relations of the world are entrusted to his 
keeping. At the turn of his hand the guns of an 
enormous fleet would go into action anywhere in the 
world, carrying the iron might of death and destruc- 
tion. His appointment confers the power to admin- 
ister justice, inflict criminal penalties, declare acts of 
state legislatures and of the Congress void, and sit in 


judgment over the very life of the nation. Practically 
all the civil and military authorities of the govern- 
ment, except the Congress and the courts, hold their 
office at his discretion. He appoints, and he can 
remove. The billions of dollars of government reve- 
nue are collected and expended under his direction. 
The Congress makes the laws, but it is the President 
who causes them to be executed. A power so vast in 
its implications has never been conferred upon any 
ruling sovereign. 

Yet the President exercises his authority in accord- 
ance with the Constitution and the law. He is truly 
the agent of the people, performing such functions 
as they have entrusted to him. The Constitution spe- 
cifically vests him with the executive power. Some 
Presidents have seemed to interpret that as an author- 
ization to take any action which the Constitution, 
or perhaps the law, does not specifically prohibit. 
Others have considered that their powers extended 
only to such acts as were specifically authorized by 
the Constitution and the statutes. This has always 
seemed to me to be a hypothetical question, which it 
would be idle to attempt to determine in advance. It 


would appear to be the better practice to wait to de- 
cide each question on its merits as it arises. Jefferson 
is said to have entertained the opinion that there was 
no constitutional warrant for enlarging the territory 
of the United States, but when the actual facts con- 
fronted him he did not hesitate to negotiate the Lou- 
isiana Purchase. For all ordinary occasions the spe- 
cific powers assigned to the President will be found 
sufficient to provide for the welfare of the country. 
That is all he needs. 

All situations that arise are likely to be simplified, 
and many of them completely solved, by an appli- 
cation of the Constitution and the law. If what they 
require to be done, is done, there is no opportunity 
for criticism, and it would be seldom that anything 
better could be devised. A Commission once came 
to me with a proposal for adopting rules to regulate 
the conduct of its members. As they were evenly di- 
vided, each side wished me to decide against the 
other. They did this because, while it is always the 
nature of a Commissioner to claim that he is entirely 
independent of the President, he would usually wel- 
come Presidential interference with any other Com- 



missioner who does not agree with him. In this case 
it occurred to me that the Department o Justice 
should ascertain what the statute setting up this 
Commission required under the circumstances. A 
reference to the law disclosed that the Congress had 
specified the qualifications of the members of the 
Commission and that they could not by rule either 
enlarge or diminish the power of their individual 
members. So their problem was solved like many 
others by simply finding out what the law required. 
Every day of the Presidential life is crowded with 
activities. When people not accustomed to Wash- 
ington came to the office, or when I met them on 
some special occasion, they often remarked that it 
seemed to be my busy day, to which my stock reply 
came to be that all days were busy and there was 
little difference among them. It was my custom to 
be out of bed about six-thirty, except in the darkest 
mornings of winter. One of the doormen at the 
White House was an excellent barber, but I always 
preferred to shave myself with old-fashioned razors, 
which I knew how to keep in good condition. It was 
my intention to take a short walk before breakfast, 



which Mrs. Coolidge and I ate together in our rooms. 
For me there was fruit and about one-half cup of 
coff ee, with a home-made cereal made from boiling 
together two parts of unground wheat with one part 
of rye. To this was added a roll and a strip of bacon, 
which went mostly to our dogs. 

Soon after eight found me dictating in the White 
House library in preparation for some public utter- 
ance. This would go on for more than an hour, after 
which I began to receive callers at the office. Most 
of these came by appointment, but in addition to the 
average of six to eight who were listed there would 
be as many more from my Cabinet and the Con- 
gress, to whom I was always accessible. Each one 
came to me with a different problem requiring my 
decision, which was usually made at once. About 
twelve-fifteen those began to be brought in who were 
to be somewhat formally presented. At twelve-thirty 
the doors were opened, and a long line passed by 
who wished merely to shake hands with the Presi- 
dent. On one occasion I shook hands with nineteen 
hundred in thirty-four minutes, which is probably 
my record. Instead of a burden, it was a pleasure and 



a relief to meet people in that way and listen to their 
greeting, which was often a benediction. It was at 
this same hour that the numerous groups assembled 
in the South Grounds, where I joined them for the 
photographs used for news purposes and permanent 
mementoes of their White House visit. 

Lunch came at one o'clock, at which we usually 
had guests. It made an opportunity for giving our 
friends a little more attention than could be extended 
through a mere handshake. About an hour was de- 
voted to rest before returning to the office, where the 
afternoon was reserved for attention to the immense 
number of documents which pass over the desk of 
the President. These were all cleaned up each day. 
Before dinner another walk was in order, followed 
by exercises on some of the vibrating machines kept 
in my room. We gathered at the dinner table at 
seven o'clock and within three-quarters of an hour 
work would be resumed with my stenographer to 
continue until about ten o'clock. 

The White House offices are under the direction 
of the Secretary to the President. They are the center 
of activities which are world-wide. Reports come in 



daily from heads of departments, from distant pos- 
sessions, and from foreign diplomats and consular 
agents scattered all over the earth. A mass of corre- 
spondence, from the Congress, the officials of the 
states, and the general public, is constantly being re- 
ceived. All of this often reaches two thousand pieces 
in a day. Very much of it is sent at once to the De- 
partment to which it refers, from which an answer 
is sent direct to the writer. Other parts are sent to 
different members of the office staff ; and some is laid 
before the President. While I signed many letters, I 
did not dictate many. After indicating the nature of 
the reply, it was usually put into form by some of the 
secretaries, A great many photographs were sent in 
to be inscribed, and a constant stream of autographs 
went to all who wrote for them. 

At ten-thirty on Tuesdays and Fridays the Cabi- 
net meetings were held. These were always very in- 
formal. Each member was asked if he had any prob- 
lem he wished to lay before the President. When I 
first attended with President Harding at the begin- 
ning of a new administration these were rather nu- 
merous. Later, they decreased, as each member felt 



better able to solve his own problems. After entire 
freedom of discussion, but always without a vote of 
any kind, I was accustomed to announce what the 
decision should be. There never ought to be and 
never were marked differences of opinion in my 
Cabinet. As their duties were not to advise each 
other, but to advise the President, they could not 
disagree among themselves. I rarely failed to accept 
their recommendations. Sometimes they wished for 
larger appropriations than the state of the Treasury 
warranted, but they all cooperated most sincerely in 
the policy of economy and were content with such 
funds as I could assign to them. 

The Secretary of State is the agency through 
which the President exercises his constitutional au- 
thority to deal with foreign relations. As this sub- 
ject is a matter of constant interchange, he makes no 
annual report upon it. Other Cabinet officers make 
annual reports to the President on the whole conduct 
of their departments, which he transmits to the Con- 
gress. All the intercourse with foreign governments 
is carried on through the Secretary of State, and a 
national of a foreign country can not be received by 



the President unless the accredited diplomatic rep- 
resentative of his government has made an appoint- 
ment for him through the State Department. 

All foreign approaches to the President are through 
this Department. When an Ambassador or Minister 
is to present his credentials, the Undersecretary of 
State brings him to the White House and escorts 
him to the Green Room. After the President has 
taken his position standing in the Blue Room ac- 
companied by his aides, the diplomat is then brought 
before him. He presents his letters with a short for- 
mal statement, to which the President responds in 
kind. When the mutual expressions of friendly in- 
terest and good will have been exchanged, the ac- 
companying staff of the diplomat is brought in for 
presentation, after which he retires. Except when 
foreign officials are presented for an audience in this 
way, the etiquette of the White House requires that 
those who are present should remain until the Presi- 
dent and the Mistress of the White House retire 
from the room. 

A competent man is assigned from the State De- 
partment to have the management of the White 



House official social function. He has under him a 
considerable staff located in one of the basement 
rooms, known as the Social Bureau, They keep a 
careful list of all those who leave cards and of the 
officials who should be invited to receptions, which 
is constantly revised to meet changing conditions* 
While the President has supervision over all these 
functions, the most effective way to deal with them 
is to provide a capable Mistress of the White House, 
I have often been complimented on the choice which 
I made nearly twenty-five years ago. These func- 
tions were so much in the hands of Mrs. Coolidge 
that oftentimes I did not know what guests were to 
be present until I met them in the Blue Room just 
before going in to dinner. 

These social functions are almost as much a part 
of the life of official Washington as a session of the 
Congress or a term of the Supreme Court* The sea- 
son opens with the Cabinet dinner. Following this 
come the Diplomatic reception,, the Diplomatic din- 
ner, then the Judicial reception, the Supreme Court 
dinner, then the Congressional reception and the 
Speaker's dinner, with the last reception of the year 



tendered to the Army and Navy. About fifty guests 
assemble at the dinners, except that given to the 
diplomats, when the presence of the Ambassadors 
or Ministers, with their wives, of all countries 
represented in Washington brings the number up 
to about ninety. The Marine Band is in attendance 
on all these occasions. Following the dinners a short 
musical recital by famous artists is given in the 
East Room, to which many additional guests are 

A reception is a particularly colorful event. About 
thirty-five hundred invitations are issued. When the 
guests are assembled the President and his wife, pre- 
ceded by his aides and followed by the Cabinet and 
his Secretary and their wives, go down the main 
staircase, pausing for a moment to receive the mili- 
tary salute of the band, and then pass to the Blue 
Room where the receptions are always held. When 
the foreign diplomats are present in their official 
dress, the scene is very brilliant. After all the pres- 
entations have been made, the President and his 
retinue return to the second floor. Immediately after 
this there is dancing in the East Room to furnish en* 


tertainment while the long line of cars comes up to 
take the guests home. 

Whenever the prominent officials o foreign gov- 
ernments visit Washington, it is customary to re- 
ceive them at a luncheon or dinner at the White 
House. When the Prince of Wales was here in 1 924 
we were in mourning, due to the loss of our son, so 
that he lunched with us informally without any 
other invited guests. When the Queen of Rumania 
came to Washington she was entertained at dinner. 
There have also been Princes of the reigning house 
of Japan and of Sweden, the Premier of France, the 
Governor General of Canada, the Presidents of the 
Irish Free State, of Cuba, and of Mexico, who have 
been received and entertained in some manner. 
Whenever an official gathering of foreigners, like 
the Panama Conference, convenes in Washington, 
the President and the Mistress of the White House 
tender them a reception and a dinner. 

Besides these formal social gatherings, there were 
various afternoon teas and musicales, which I some- 
times neglected, and usually one or two garden par- 
ties held in the South Grounds, one of which was for 



the disabled veterans who were patients in Washing- 
ton hospitals. These parties were accompanied with 
band music and light refreshments, which always 
seemed to be appreciated by the veterans. 

My personal social functions consisted of the 
White House breakfasts, which were attended by 
fifteen to twenty-five members of the House and 
Senate and others, who gathered around my table at 
eight-thirty o'clock in the morning to partake of a 
meal which ended with wheat cakes and Vermont 
maple syrup. During the last session of the Con- 
gress I invited all the members of the Senate, all the 
chairmen and ranking Democratic members of the 
committees of the House, and finally had breakfast 
with the officers of both houses of the Congress. Al- 
though we did not undertake to discuss matters of 
public business at these breakfasts, they were pro- 
ductive of a spirit of good fellowship which was no 
doubt a helpful influence to the transaction of pub- 
lic business. 

In addition to these White House events, the 
President and his wife go out to twelve official din- 
ners. They begin with the Vice-President, go on 



among the ten members of the Cabinet, and close 
with the Speaker of the House, Aside from these, it 
is not customary for the President to accept the hos- 
pitality of any individuals. This is not from any de- 
sire on his part to be exclusive, but rather arises from 
an application of the principle of equality. The 
number of days in his term of office is limited. If he 
gave up all the time when he is not otherwise neces- 
sarily engaged, it is doubtful if he could find fifty 
evenings in a year when he could accept invitations. 
At once he would be confronted with the necessity 
of deciding which to accept and which to reject. If 
he served eight years, he could only touch the fringe 
of official Washington, even if he chose to disregard 
all the balance of the country. The only escape from 
an otherwise impossible situation is to observe the 
rule of refusing all social invitations. 

The President stands at the head of all official and 
social rank in the nation. As he is Commander-in- 
Chief of the Army and Navy, all their officers are 
his subordinates. As he is the head of the govern- 
ment, he outranks all other public officials. As the 
first citizen, he is placed at the top of the social scale. 



Wherever he goes, whenever he appears, he must be 
assigned the place of honor. It follows from this that 
he can not consistently attend a dinner or any other 
function given by some one else in honor of any 
other person. He can have ceremonies of his own at 
the White House, or outside, in which he recognizes 
the merit of others and bestows upon them appro- 
priate honors. But his participation in any other oc- 
casion of such a nature is confined to sending an 
appropriate message. 

It would make great confusion in all White House 
relations unless the rules of procedure were observed. 
If this were not done, the most ambitious and in- 
truding would seize the place of honor, or it would 
be bestowed by favor. In both cases all official posi- 
tion would be ignored. In its working out, there- 
fore, the adoption of rules which take no account 
of persons, but simply apply to places, is the only 
method which is in harmony with our spirit of 
equality. In its application it gives us more com- 
pletely a government of laws and not of men. 

As he is head of the government, charged with 
making appointments, and clothed with the execu- 



tivc power, the President has a certain responsibil- 
ity for the conduct of all departments, commissions 
and independent bureaus. While I was willing to 
advise with any of these officers and give them any 
assistance in my power, I always felt they should 
make their own decisions and rarely volunteered any 
advice. Many applications are made requesting the 
President to seek to influence these bodies, and such 
applications were usually transmitted to them for 
their information without comment. Wherever they 
exercise judicial functions, I always felt that some 
impropriety might attach to any suggestions from 
me. The parties before them are entitled to a fair 
trial on the merits of their case and to have judg- 
ment rendered by those to whom both sides have 
presented their evidence. If some one on the outside 
undertook to interfere, even if grave injustice was 
not done, the integrity of a commission which comes 
from a knowledge that it can be relied on to exercise 
its own independent judgment would be very much 

I never hesitated to ask commissions to speed up 
their work and get their business done, but if they 



were not doing it correctly my remedy would be to 
supplant them with those who I thought would do 
better. At one time the Shipping Board adopted a 
resolution declaring their independence of the Presi- 
dent and claiming they were responsible solely to the 
Congress. As I always considered they had a rather 
impossible task, I doubted whether any one could be 
very successful in its performance. If they wished to 
try to relieve me of its responsibility, I had no per- 
sonal objection and would probably be saved from 
considerable criticism. But they found they could 
not carry on their work without the support of the 
President, so that some of them resigned and the re- 
mainder reestablished their contact with the White 
House, which was always open to them. 

The practice which I followed in my relations 
with commissions and in the recognition of rank 
has been long established. President Jefferson seems 
to have entertained the opinion that even the Su- 
preme Court should be influenced by his wishes and 
that failing in this a recalcitrant judge should be im- 
peached by a complaisant Congress. This brought 
him into a sharp conflict with John Marshall, who 


resisted any encroachment upon the independence 
of the Court. In this controversy the position of 
Marshall has been vindicated. It is also said that at 
some of his official dinners President Jefferson left 
all his guests to the confusion of taking whatever 
seat they could find at his table. But this method did 
not survive the test of history. In spite of all his 
greatness, any one who had as many ideas as Jeffer- 
son was bound to find that some of them would not 
work. But this does not detract from the wisdom of 
his faith in the people and his constant insistence 
that they be left to manage their own affairs. His 
opposition to bureaucracy will bear careful analysis,, 
and the country could stand a great deal more of its 
application. The trouble with us is that we talk about 
Jefferson but do not follow him. In his theory that 
the people should manage their government, and not 
be managed by it, he was everlastingly right. 

Tradition and custom, it will be seen, are often- 
times determining factors in the Presidential office, 
as they are in all other walks of life. This is not be- 
cause they are arbitrary or artificial, but because long 
experience has demonstrated that they are the best 


methods of dealing with human affairs. Things are 
done in a certain way after many repetitions show 
that way causes the least friction and is most likely 
to bring the desired result. While there are times 
when the people might enjoy the spectacular, in the 
end they will only be satisfied with accomplishments. 
The President gets the best advice he can find, uses 
the best judgment at his command, and leaves the 
event in the hands of Providence. 

Everything that the President does potentially at 
least is of such great importance that he must be con- 
stantly on guard. This applies not only to himself, 
but to everybody about him. Not only in all his offi- 
cial actions, but in all his social intercourse, and even 
in his recreation and repose, he is constantly watched 
by a multitude of eyes to determine if there is any- 
thing unusual, extraordinary, or irregular, which can 
be set down in praise or in blame. Oftentimes tri- 
fling incidents, some insignificant action, an unfor- 
tunate phrase in an address, an injudicious letter, a 
lack of patience towards some one who presents an 
impossible proposition, too much attention to one 
person, or too little courtesy towards another, become 


magnified into the sensation of the hour. While such 
events finally sink into their proper place in history 
as too small for consideration, if they occur fre- 
quently they create an atmosphere of distraction that 
might seriously interfere with the conduct of public 
business which is really important. 

It was my desire to maintain about the White 
House as far as possible an attitude of simplicity and 
not engage in anything that had an air of pretentious 
display* That was my conception of the great office. 
It carries sufficient power within itself, so that it 
does not require any of the outward trappings of 
pomp and splendor for the purpose of creating an 
impression. It has a dignity of its own which makes 
it self-sufficient* Of course, there should be proper 
formality, and personal relations should be con- 
ducted at all times with decorum and dignity, and 
in accordance with the best traditions of polite so- 
ciety. But there is no need of theatricals. 

But, however much he may deplore it, the Presi- 
dent ceases to be an ordinary citizen* In order to 
function at all he has to be surrounded with many 
safeguards. If these were removed for only a short 


time, he would be overwhelmed by the people who 
would surge in upon him. In traveling it would be 
agreeable to me to use the regular trains which are 
open to the public. I have done so once or twice. 
But I found it made great difficulty for the railroads. 
They reported that it was unsafe, because they could 
not take the necessary precautions. It therefore 
seemed best to run a second section, following a reg- 
ular train, for the exclusive use of the President and 
his party. While the facilities of a private car have 
always been offered,! think they have only been used 
once, when one was needed for the better comfort of 
Mrs. Coolidge during her illness. Although I have 
not been given to much travel during my term of 
office, it has been sufficient, so that I am convinced 
the government should own a private car for the use 
of the President when he leaves Washington. The 
pressure on him is so great, the responsibilities are so 
heavy, that it is wise public policy in order to secure 
his best services to provide him with such ample fa- 
cilities that he will be relieved as far as possible from 
all physical inconveniences. 

It is not generally understood how much detail is 


involved in any journey of the President. One or 
two secret service men must go to the destination 
several days in advance. His line of travel and every 
street and location which he is to visit are carefully 
examined. The order of ceremonies has to be sub- 
mitted for approval. Oftentimes the local police are 
inadequate, so that it is necessary to use some of the 
military or naval forces to assist them. Not only his 
aides and his personal physician, but also secret serv- 
ice men, some of his office force, and house servants, 
have to be in attendance. Quarters must also be pro- 
vided for a large retinue of newspaper reporters and 
camera men who follow him upon all occasions. 
Every switch that he goes over is spiked down. Every 
freight train that he passes is stopped and every pas- 
senger train slowed down to ten miles per hour. 
While all of this proceeds smoothly, it requires care- 
ful attention to a great variety of details. 

It has never been my practice to speak from rear 
platforms. The confusion is so great that few people 
could hear and it does not seem to me very dignified. 
When the President speaks it ought to be an event. 
The excuse for such appearances which formerly ex- 


isted has been eliminated by the coming of the radio. 
It is so often that the President is on the air that al- 
most any one who wishes has ample opportunity to 
hear his voice. It has seemed more appropriate for 
Mrs. Coolidge and me to appear at the rear of the 
train where the people could see us. About the only 
time that I have spoken was at Bennington in Sep- 
tember of 1928, where I expressed my affection and 
respect for the people of the state of Vermont, as I 
was passing through that town on my way back to 
Washington. I found that the love I had for the 
hills where I was born touched a responsive chord in 
the heart of the whole nation. 

One of the most appalling trials which confront 
a President is the perpetual clamor for public utter- 
ances. Invitations are constant and pressing. They 
come by wire, by mail, and by delegations. No event 
of importance is celebrated anywhere in the United 
States without inviting him to come to deliver an 
oration. When others are enjoying a holiday, he is 
expected to make a public appearance in order to 
entertain and instruct by a formal address. There are 
a few public statements that he does not deliver in 



person, like proclamations, and messages, which go 
to the Congress, either reporting his views on the 
state of the Union in his Anitual Message or giving 
his reasons for rejecting legislation in a veto. These 
productions vary in length. My Annual Message 
would be about twelve thousand words* My speeches 
would average a little over three thousand words. In 
the course of a year the entire number reaches about 
twenty, which probably represents an output of at 
least seventy-five thousand words. 

This kind of work is very exacting. It requires 
the most laborious and extended research and study, 
and the most careful and painstaking thought, Each 
word has to be weighed in the realization that it is 
a Presidential utterance which will be dissected at 
home and abroad to discover its outward meaning 
and any possible hidden implications. Before it is 
finished it is thoroughly examined by one or two of 
my staff, and oftentimes by a member of the Cabi- 
net. It-is not difficult for me to deliver an address* 
The difficulty lies in its preparation. This is an im- 
portant part of the work of a President which he can 
not escape. It is inherent in the office. 



A great many presents come to the White House, 
which are all cherished, not so much for their in- 
trinsic value as because they are tokens of esteem 
and affection. Almost everything that can be eaten 
comes. We always know what to do with that. But 
some of the pets that are offered us are more of a 
problem, I have a beautiful black-haired bear that 
was brought all the way from Mexico in a truck, and 
a pair of live lion cubs now grown up, and a small 
species of hippopotamus which came from South 
Africa. These and other animals and birds have been 
placed in the zoological quarters in Rock Creek 
Park* We always had more dogs than we could take 
care of. My favorites were the white collies, which 
became so much associated with me that they are 
enshrined in my bookplate, where they will live as 
long as our country endures. One of them, Prudence 
Prim, was especially attached to Mrs. Coolidge. We 
lost her in the Black Hills. She lies out there in the 
shadow of Bear Butte where the Indians told me the 
Great Spirit came to commune with his children. 
One was my companion > Rob Roy. He was a stately 
gentleman of great courage and fidelity* He loved 



to bark from the second-story windows and around 
the South Grounds, Nights he remained in my room 
and afternoons went with me to the office. His es- 
pecial delight was to ride with me in the boats when 
I went fishing. So although I know he would bark 
for joy as the grim boatman ferried him across the 
dark waters of the Styx, yet his going left me lonely 
on the hither shore. 

As I left office I realized that the more 1 had seen 
of the workings of the Federal government the more 
respect I came to have for it. It is carried on by hun- 
dreds of thousands of people. Some prove incompe- 
tent. A very few are tempted to become disloyal to 
their trust. But the great rank and file of them are 
of good ability, conscientious, and faithful public 
servants. While some are paid more than they would 
earn in private life, there are great throngs who are 
serving at a distinct personal sacrifice. Among the 
higher officials this is almost always true. The serv- 
ice they perform entitles them to approbation and 

The Congress has sometimes been a sore trial to * 
Presidents. I did not find it so in my case. Among 



them were men of wonderful ability and veteran ex- 
perience. I think they made their decisions with an 
honest purpose to serve their country. The member- 
ship of the Senate changed very much by reason of 
those who sacrificed themselves for public duty. Of 
all public officials with whom I have ever been 
acquainted, *the work of a Senator of the United 
States is by far the most laborious. About twenty 
of them died during the eight years I was in Wash- 

Sometimes it would seem for a day that either the 
House or the Senate had taken some unwise action, 
but if it was not corrected on the floor where it oc- 
curred it was usually remedied in the other chamber. 
I always found the members of both parties willing 
to confer with me and disposed to treat my recom- 
mendations fairly* Most of the differences could be 
adjusted by personal discussion* Sometimes I made 
an appeal direct to the country by stating my posi- 
tion at the newspaper conferences* I adopted that 
course in relation to the Mississippi Flood Control 
Bill As it passed the Senate it appeared to be much 
too extravagant in its rule of damages and its pro- 


posed remedy. The press began a vigorous discus- 
sion of the subject, which caused the House greatly 
to modify the bill, and in conference a measure that 
was entirely fair and moderate was adopted. On other 
occasions I appealed to the country more privately, 
enlisting the influence of labor and trade organiza- 
tions upon the Congress in behalf of some measures 
in which I was interested. That was done in the case 
of the tax bill of 1928. As it passed the House, the 
reductions were so large that the revenue necessary 
to meet the public expenses would not have been fur- 
nished. By quietly making this known to the Senate, 
and enlisting support for that position among their 
constituents, it was possible to secure such modifica- 
tion of the measure that it could be adopted without 
greatly endangering the revenue. 

But a President cannot, with success, constantly 
appeal to the country. After a time he will get no 
response. The people have their own affairs to look 
after and can not give much attention to what the 
Congress is doing. If he takes a position, and stands 
by it, ultimately it will be adopted. Most of the pol- 
icies set out in my first Annual Message have become 


law, but it took several years to get action on some 
of them. 

One of the most perplexing and at the same time 
most important functions of the President is the 
making of appointments. In some few cases he acts 
alone, but usually they are made with the advice and 
consent of the Senate. It is the practice to consult 
Senators of his own party before making an appoint- 
ment from their state. In choosing persons for serv- 
ice over the whole or any considerable portion of a 
single state, it is customary to rely almost entirely on 
the party Senators from that state for recommen- 
dations. It is not possible to find men who are per- 
fect. Selection always has to be limited to human 
beings, whatever choice is made. It is therefore al- 
ways possible to point out defects. The supposition 
that no one should be appointed who has had experi- 
ence in the field which he is to supervise is extremely 
detrimental to the public service. An Interstate Com- 
merce Commissioner is much better qualified, if he 
knows something about transportation* A Federal 
Trade Commissioner can render much better service 
if he has had a legal practice which extended into 



large business transactions. The assertion of those 
who contend that persons accepting a government 
appointment would betray their trust in favor of 
former associates can be understood only on the sup- 
position that those who make it feel that their own 
tenure of public office is for the purpose of benefit- 
ing themselves and their friends. 

Every one knows that where the treasure is, there 
will the heart be also. When a man has invested his 
personal interest and reputation in the conduct of a 
public office, if he goes wrong it will not be because 
of former relations, but because he is a bad man. The 
same interests that reached him would reach any bad 
man, irrespective of former life history. What we 
need in appointive positions is men of knowledge 
and experience who have sufficient character to re- 
sist temptations. If that standard is maintained, we 
need not be concerned about their former activities* 
If it is not maintained, all the restrictions on their 
past employment that can be conceived will be o 
no avail. 

The more experience I have had in making ap- 
pointments, the more I am convinced that attempts 



to put limitations on the appointing power are a mis- 
take. It should be possible to choose a well qualified 
person wherever he can be found. When restrictions 
are placed on residence, occupation, or profession, it 
almost always happens that some one is found who 
is universally admitted to be the best qualified, but 
who is eliminated by the artificial specifications. So 
long as the Senate has the power to reject nomina- 
tions, there is little danger that a President would 
abuse his authority if he were given the largest pos- 
sible freedom in his choices. The public service 
would be improved if all vacancies were filled by 
simply appointing the best ability and character that 
can be found. That is what is done in private busi- 
ness. The adoption of any other course handicaps the 
government in all its operations. 

In determining upon all his actions, however, the 
President has to remember that he is dealing with 
two different minds. One is the mind of the coun- 
try, largely intent upon its own personal affairs, and, 
while not greatly interested in the government,, yet 
desirous of seeing it conducted in an orderly and 
dignified manner for the advancement of the public 


welfare. Those who compose this mind wish to have 
the country prosperous and are opposed to unjust 
taxation and public extravagance. At the same time 
they have a patriotic pride which moves them with 
so great a desire to see things well done that they are 
willing to pay for it. They gladly contribute their 
money to place the United States in the lead. In gen- 
eral, they represent the public opinion of the land. 

But they are unorganized, formless, and inarticu- 
late. Against a compact and well drilled minority 
they do not appear to be very effective. They are 
nevertheless the great power in our government. I 
have constantly appealed to them and have seldom 
failed in enlisting their support. They are the court 
of last resort and their decisions are final. 

They are, however, the indirect rather than the 
direct power. The immediate authority with which 
the President has to deal is vested in the political 
mind. In order to get things done he has to work 
through that agency. Some of our Presidents have 
appeared to lack comprehension of the political 
mind. Although I have been associated with it for 
many years, I always found difficulty in understand- 



ing it. It is a strange mixture of vanity and timidity, 
of an obsequious attitude at one time and a delusion 
of grandeur at another time, of the most selfish pre- 
ferment combined with the most sacrificing patriot- 
ism. The political mind is the product of men in 
public life who have been twice spoiled. They have 
been spoiled with praise and they have been spoiled 
with abuse. With them nothing is natural, every- 
thing is artificial. A few rare souls escape these in- 
fluences and maintain a vision and a judgment that 
are unimpaired. They are a great comfort to every 
President and a great service to their country. But 
they are not sufficient in number so that the public 
business can be transacted like a private business. 

It is because in their hours of timidity the Con- 
gress becomes subservient to the importunities of 
organized minorities that the President comes more 
and more to stand as the champion of the rights of 
the whole country. Organizing such minorities has 
come to be a well-recognized industry at Washing- 
ton, They are oftentimes led by persons of great 
ability, who display much skill in bringing their in- 
fluences to bear on the Congress* They have ways of 



securing newspaper publicity, deluging Senators and 
Representatives with petitions and overwhelming 
them with imprecations that are oftentimes decisive 
in securing the passage of bills. While much of this 
legislation is not entirely bad, almost all of it is ex- 
cessively expensive. If it were not for the rules of the 
House and the veto power of the President, within 
two years these activities would double the cost of 
the government* 

Under our system the President is not only the 
head of the government, but is also the head of his 
party. The last twenty years have witnessed a decline 
in party spirit and a distinct weakening in party 
loyalty. While an independent attitude on the part of 
the citizen is not without a certain public advantage, 
yet it is necessary under our form of government to 
have political parties. Unless some one is a partisan, 
no one can be an independent. The Congress is or- 
ganized entirely in accordance with party policy, 
The parties appeal to the voters in behalf of their 
platforms. The people make their choice on those 
issues. Unless those who are elected on the same 
party platform associate themselves together to carry 


out its provisions, the election becomes a mockery. 
The independent voter who has joined with others in 
placing a party nominee in office finds his efforts were 
all in vain, if the person he helps elect refuses or 
neglects to keep the platform pledges of his party. 

Many occasions arise in the Congress when party 
lines are very properly disregarded, but if there is to 
be a reasonable government proceeding in accord- 
ance with the express mandate of the people, and 
not merely at the whim of those who happen to be 
victorious at the polls, on all the larger and impor- 
tant issues there must be party solidarity. It is the 
business of the President as party leader to do the 
best he can to see that the declared party platform 
purposes are translated into legislative and adminis- 
trative action. Oftentimes I secured support from 
those without my party and had opposition from 
those within my party, in attempting to keep my 
platform pledges* 

Such a condition is entirely anomalous* It leaves 
the President as the sole repository of party respon- 
sibility* But it is one of the reasons that the Presi- 
dential office has grown in popular estimation and 


favor, while the Congress has declined. The country 
feels that the President is willing to assume respon- 
sibility, while his party in the Congress is not. I have 
never felt it was my duty to attempt to coerce Sena- 
tors or Representatives, or to take reprisals. The 
people sent them to Washington. I felt I had dis- 
charged my duty when I had done the best I could 
with them- In this way I avoided almost entirely a 
personal opposition, which I think was of more value 
to the country than to attempt to prevail through 
arousing personal fear. 

Under our system it ought to be remembered that 
the power to initiate policies has to be centralized 
somewhere. Unless the party leaders exercising it 
can depend on loyalty and organization support, the 
party in which it is reposed will become entirely in- 
effective. A party which is ineffective will soon be 
discarded. If a party is to endure as a serviceable in-, 
strument of government for the country, it must pos- 
sess and display a healthy spirit of party loyalty- Such 
a manifestation in the Congress would do more than 
anything else to rehabilitate it in the esteem and con- 
fidence of the country. 



It is natural for man to seek power. It was be- 
cause of this trait of human nature that the founders 
of our institutions provided a system of checks and 
balances. They placed all their public officers under 
constitutional limitations. They had little fear of the 
courts and were inclined to regard legislative bodies 
as the natural champions of their liberties. They 
were very apprehensive that the executive might seek 
to exercise arbitrary powers. Under our Constitu- 
tion such fears seldom have been well founded. The 
President has tended to become the champion of the 
people because he is held solely responsible for his 
acts , while in the Congress where responsibility is 
divided it has developed that there is much greater 
danger of arbitrary action* 

It has therefore become increasingly imperative 
that the President should resist any encroachment 
upon his constitutional powers. One of the most im- 
portant of these is the power of appointment. The 
Constitution provides that he shall nominate, and 
by and with the advice and consent of the Senate 
appoint, A constant pressure is exerted by the Sen- 
ators to make their own nominations and the Con- 



gress is constantly proposing laws which undertake 
to deprive the President of the appointive power. 
Different departments and bureaus are frequently 
supporting measures that would make them self -per- 
petuating bodies to which no appointments could 
be made that they did not originate. While I have 
always sought cooperation and advice, I have like- 
wise resisted these efforts, sometimes by refusing to 
adopt recommendations and sometimes by the exer- 
cise of the veto power. One of the farm relief bills, 
and later a public health measure, had these clearly 
unconstitutional limitations on the power of appoint- 
ment. In the defense of the rights and liberties of 
the people it is necessary for the President to resist 
all encroachments upon his lawful authority. 

All of these trials and encouragements come to 
each President. It is impossible to explain them. 
Even after passing through the Presidential office, 
it still remains a great mystery. Why one person is 
selected for it and many others are rejected can not 
be told. Why people respond as they do to its influ- 
ence seems to be beyond inquiry* Any man who has 
been placed in the White House can not feel that it 



is the result of his own exertions or his own merit. 
Some power outside and beyond him becomes mani- 
fest through him. As he contemplates the workings 
of his office, he comes to realize with an increasing 
sense of humility that he is but an instrument in the 
hands of God. 

The day he became Governor of Massachusetts 



PERHAPS I have already indicated some of 
the reasons why I did not desire to be a can- 
didate to succeed myself. 
The Presidential office takes a heavy toll of those 
who occupy it and those who are dear to them* 
While we should not refuse to spend and be spent 
in the service of our country, it is hazardous to at- 
tempt what we feel is beyond our strength to ac- 

I had never wished to run in 1928 and had de- 
termined to make a public announcement at a suf- 
ficiently early date so that the party would have 
ample time to choose some one else. An appropri- 
ate occasion for that announcement seemed to be the 
fourth anniversary of my taking office- The reasons 
I can give may not appear very convincing, but I 
am confident my decision was correct. 



My personal and official relations have all been pe- 
culiarly pleasant. The Congress has not always done 
all that I wished, but it has done very little that I 
did not approve. So far as I can judge, I have been 
especially fortunate in having the approbation of the 

But irrespective of the third-term policy, the Presi- 
dential office is of such a nature that it is difficult to 
conceive how one man can successfully serve the 
country for a term of more than eight years. 

While I am in favor of continuing the long-estab- 
lished custom of the country in relation to a third 
term for a President, yet I do not think that the prac- 
tice applies to one who has succeeded to part of a 
term as Vice-President. Others might argue that it 
does, but I doubt if the country would so consider it. 

Although my own health has been practically 
perfect, yet the duties are very great and ten years 
would be a very heavy strain. It would be especially 
long for the Mistress of the White House. Mrs. Cool- 
idge has been in more than usual good health, but 
I doubt if she could have stayed there for ten years 
without some danger of impairment of her strength. 


A President should not only not be selfish, but he 
ought to avoid the appearance o selfishness. The 
people would not have confidence in a man that ap- 
peared to be grasping for office. 

It is difficult for men in high office to avoid the 
malady of self-delusion. They are always surrounded 
by worshipers. They are constantly, and for the most 
part sincerely, assured of their greatness. 

They live in an artificial atmosphere of adulation 
and exaltation which sooner or later impairs their 
judgment. They are in grave danger of becoming 
careless and arrogant. 

The chances of having wise and faithful public 
service are increased by a change in the Presidential 
office after a moderate length of time. 

It is necessary for the head of the nation to differ 
with many people who are honest in their opinions. 
As his term progresses, the number who are disap- 
pointed accumulates. Finally, there is so large a 
body who have lost confidence in him that he meets 
a rising opposition which makes his efforts less ef- 

In the higher ranges of public service men appear 


to come forward to perform a certain duty. When 
it is performed their work is done. They usually find 
it impossible to readjust themselves in the thought 
of the people so as to pass on successfully to the solu- 
tion of new public problems. 

An examination of the records of those Presidents 
who have served eight years will disclose that in al- 
most every instance the latter part of their term has 
shown very little in the way of constructive accom- 
plishment. They have often been clouded with grave 

While I had a desire to be relieved of the preten- 
sions and delusions of public life, it was not because 
of any attraction of pleasure or idleness. 

We draw our Presidents from the people. It is 
a wholesome thing for them to return to the people. 
I came from them. I wish to be one of them again. 

Although all our Presidents have had back of 
them a good heritage of blood, very few have been 
born to the purple. Fortunately* they are not sup- 
ported at public expense after leaving office^ so they 
are not expected to set an example encouraging to a 
leisure class. 



They have only the same title to nobility that be- 
longs to all our citizens, which is the one based on 
achievement and character, so they need not assume 
superiority. It is becoming for them to engage in 
some dignified employment where they can be of 
service as others are. 

Our country does not believe in idleness. It hon- 
ors hard work. I wanted to serve the country again 
as a private citizen, 

In making my public statement I was careful in 
the use of words* There were some who reported 
that they were mystified as to nay meaning when I 
said, "I do not choose to run." 

Although I did not know it at the time, months 
later I found that Washington said practically the 
same thing. Certainly he said no more in his Fare- 
well Address, where he announced that "choice and 
prudence" invited him to retire. 

There were others who constantly demanded that 
I should state that if nominated I would refuse to 
accept. Such a statement would not be in accord- 
ance with my conception of the requirements of the 
Presidential office. I never stated or formulated in 


my own mind what I should do under such circum- 
stances, but I was determined not to have that con- 
tingency arise. 

I therefore sent the Secretary to the President, 
Everett Sanders, a man of great ability and discre- 
tion, to Kansas City with instructions to notify sev- 
eral of the leaders of state delegations not to vote for 
me. Had I not done so, I am told, I should have been 

The report that he had talked with me on the 
telephone after his arrival, and I had told him I 
would not accept if nominated, was pure fabrication. 
I had no communication with him of any kind after 
he left Washington and did not give him any such 
instruction or message at any time. 

I thought if I could prevent being nominated, 
which I was able to do, it would never be necessary 
for me to decide the other question. But in order to 
be perfectly free, I sent this notice, so that if I de- 
clined no one could say I had misled him into sup- 
posing that I was willing to receive his vote. 

I felt sure that the party and the country were in 
so strong a position that they could easily nominate 



and elect some other candidate. The events have con- 
firmed my judgment. 

In the primary campaign I was careful to make it 
known that I was not presenting any candidate. The 
friends of several of them no doubt represented that 
their candidate was satisfactory to me, which was 
true as far as it went. 

I can conceive a situation in which a President 
might be warranted in exercising the influence of 
his office in selecting his successor. That condition 
did not exist in the last primary. The party had 
plenty of material, which was available, and the 
candidate really should be the choice of the people 
themselves. This is especially so now that so many 
of the states have laws for the direct expression of 
the choice of the voters, 

A President in office can do very much about the 
nomination of his successor, because of his influence 
with the convention, but the feeling that he had 
forced a choice would place the nominee under a 
heavy handicap. 

When the convention assembles it is almost cer- 
tain that it will look about to see what candidate has 


made the largest popular showing, and unless some 
peculiar disqualification develops it will nominate 

That was what happened in the last convention, 
although no one had a majority when the conven- 
tion assembled. 

A strong group of the party in and outside of the 
Senate made the mistake of undertaking to oppose 
Mr. Hoover with a large number of local candidates, 
which finally resulted in their not developing enough 
strength for any particular candidate to make a show- 
ing sufficient to impress the convention. 

Although I did not intimate in any way that I 
would not accept the nomination, when I sent word 
to the heads of certain unpledged state delegations 
not to vote for me, they very naturally turned to Mr. 
Hoover, which brought about his nomination on the 
first ballot. 

The Presidential office differs from everything else. 
Much of it cannot be described, it can only be felt. 
After I had considered the reasons for my being a can- 
didate on the one side and on the other, I could not say 
that any of them moved me with compelling force* 


My election seemed assured. Nevertheless, I felt 
it was not best for the country that I should succeed 
myself. A new impulse is more likely to be bene- 

It was therefore my privilege, after seeing my ad- 
ministration so strongly indorsed by the country, to 
retire voluntarily from the greatest experience that 
can come to mortal man. In that way, I believed I 
could best serve the people who have honored me 
and the country which I love-